Podcast appearances and mentions of Jack Nitzsche

American musician and composer

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Jack Nitzsche



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Getting lumped up with Rob Rossi
Rockshow episode Willy ‘Mink' DeVille 171 part 2 with special guest Donna Destri

Getting lumped up with Rob Rossi

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 21, 2023 51:38

Willy DeVille (born William Paul Borsey Jr.; August 25, 1950 – August 6, 2009) was an American singer and songwriter. During his thirty-five-year career, first with his band Mink DeVille (1974–1986) and later on his own, DeVille created original songs rooted in traditional American musical styles. He worked with collaborators from across the spectrum of contemporary music, including Jack Nitzsche, Doc Pomus, Dr. John, Mark Knopfler, Allen Toussaint, and Eddie Bo. Latin rhythms, blues riffs, doo-wop, Cajun music, strains of French cabaret, and echoes of early-1960s uptown soul can be heard in DeVille's work. Mink DeVille was a house band at CBGB, the historic New York City nightclub where punk rock was born in the mid-1970s. DeVille helped redefine the Brill Building sound. In 1987 his song "Storybook Love" was nominated for an Academy Award. After his move to New Orleans in 1988, he helped spark the roots revival of classic New Orleans R&B. His soulful lyrics and explorations in Latin rhythms and sounds helped define a new musical style sometimes called "Spanish-Americana". DeVille died of pancreatic cancer on August 6, 2009, at the age of 58. Although his commercial success waxed and waned over the years, his legacy as a songwriter has influenced many other musicians, such as Mark Knopfler and Peter Wolf. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/08/arts/music/08deville.html https://open.spotify.com/artist/4I7KSNpB2zt6XTyCXw7ca9 https://m.facebook.com/WillyDeVilleVideos/ https://www.instagram.com/williedevilletv/?hl=en @RocknRoll @Music @Musician @songwriter @Singer @MinkDeVille @CBGB @band @NYC @Punk Park Dental Care 12419 101st Ave South Richmond Hill Queens (718) 847-3800 https://www.718DENTISTS.com Please follow us on Youtube,Facebook,Instagram,Twitter,Patreon and at www.gettinglumpedup.com https://linktr.ee/RobRossi Get your T-shirt at https://www.prowrestlingtees.com/gettinglumpedup And https://www.bonfire.com/store/getting-lumped-up/ Subscribe to the channel and hit the like button This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/rob-rossi/support https://www.patreon.com/Gettinglumpedup --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/rob-rossi/support

Getting lumped up with Rob Rossi
Rockshow Episode 170 Willy ‘Mink' DeVille part 1

Getting lumped up with Rob Rossi

Play Episode Listen Later Jan 8, 2023 25:18

Rockshow Episode 170 Willy ‘Mink' DeVille part 1 Willy DeVille (born William Paul Borsey Jr.; August 25, 1950 – August 6, 2009) was an American singer and songwriter. During his thirty-five-year career, first with his band Mink DeVille (1974–1986) and later on his own, DeVille created original songs rooted in traditional American musical styles. He worked with collaborators from across the spectrum of contemporary music, including Jack Nitzsche, Doc Pomus, Dr. John, Mark Knopfler, Allen Toussaint, and Eddie Bo. Latin rhythms, blues riffs, doo-wop, Cajun music, strains of French cabaret, and echoes of early-1960s uptown soul can be heard in DeVille's work. Mink DeVille was a house band at CBGB, the historic New York City nightclub where punk rock was born in the mid-1970s. DeVille helped redefine the Brill Building sound. In 1987 his song "Storybook Love" was nominated for an Academy Award. After his move to New Orleans in 1988, he helped spark the roots revival of classic New Orleans R&B. His soulful lyrics and explorations in Latin rhythms and sounds helped define a new musical style sometimes called "Spanish-Americana". DeVille died of pancreatic cancer on August 6, 2009, at the age of 58. Although his commercial success waxed and waned over the years, his legacy as a songwriter has influenced many other musicians, such as Mark Knopfler and Peter Wolf. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/08/arts/music/08deville.html https://open.spotify.com/artist/4I7KSNpB2zt6XTyCXw7ca9 https://m.facebook.com/WillyDeVilleVideos/ https://www.instagram.com/williedevilletv/?hl=en @RocknRoll @Music @Musician @songwriter @Singer @MinkDeVille @CBGB @band @NYC @Punk Park Dental Care 12419 101st Ave South Richmond Hill Queens (718) 847-3800 https://www.718DENTISTS.com Please follow us on Youtube,Facebook,Instagram,Twitter,Patreon and at www.gettinglumpedup.com https://linktr.ee/RobRossi Get your T-shirt at https://www.prowrestlingtees.com/gettinglumpedup And https://www.bonfire.com/store/getting-lumped-up/ Subscribe to the channel and hit the like button This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/rob-rossi/support https://www.patreon.com/Gettinglumpedup --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/rob-rossi/support

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 158: “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2022

Episode one hundred and fifty-eight of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “White Rabbit”, Jefferson Airplane, and the rise of the San Francisco sound. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-three-minute bonus episode available, on "Omaha" by Moby Grape. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Erratum I refer to Back to Methuselah by Robert Heinlein. This is of course a play by George Bernard Shaw. What I meant to say was Methuselah's Children. Resources I hope to upload a Mixcloud tomorrow, and will edit it in, but have had some problems with the site today. Jefferson Airplane's first four studio albums, plus a 1968 live album, can be found in this box set. I've referred to three main books here. Got a Revolution!: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane by Jeff Tamarkin is written with the co-operation of the band members, but still finds room to criticise them. Jefferson Airplane On Track by Richard Molesworth is a song-by-song guide to the band's music. And Been So Long: My Life and Music by Jorma Kaukonen is Kaukonen's autobiography. Some information on Skip Spence and Matthew Katz also comes from What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean?: The Moby Grape Story, by Cam Cobb, which I also used for this week's bonus. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Before I start, I need to confess an important and hugely embarrassing error in this episode. I've only ever seen Marty Balin's name written down, never heard it spoken, and only after recording the episode, during the editing process, did I discover I mispronounce it throughout. It's usually an advantage for the podcast that I get my information from books rather than TV documentaries and the like, because they contain far more information, but occasionally it causes problems like that. My apologies. Also a brief note that this episode contains some mentions of racism, antisemitism, drug and alcohol abuse, and gun violence. One of the themes we've looked at in recent episodes is the way the centre of the musical world -- at least the musical world as it was regarded by the people who thought of themselves as hip in the mid-sixties -- was changing in 1967. Up to this point, for a few years there had been two clear centres of the rock and pop music worlds. In the UK, there was London, and any British band who meant anything had to base themselves there. And in the US, at some point around 1963, the centre of the music industry had moved West. Up to then it had largely been based in New York, and there was still a thriving industry there as of the mid sixties. But increasingly the records that mattered, that everyone in the country had been listening to, had come out of LA Soul music was, of course, still coming primarily from Detroit and from the Country-Soul triangle in Tennessee and Alabama, but when it came to the new brand of electric-guitar rock that was taking over the airwaves, LA was, up until the first few months of 1967, the only city that was competing with London, and was the place to be. But as we heard in the episode on "San Francisco", with the Monterey Pop Festival all that started to change. While the business part of the music business remained centred in LA, and would largely remain so, LA was no longer the hip place to be. Almost overnight, jangly guitars, harmonies, and Brian Jones hairstyles were out, and feedback, extended solos, and droopy moustaches were in. The place to be was no longer LA, but a few hundred miles North, in San Francisco -- something that the LA bands were not all entirely happy about: [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Who Needs the Peace Corps?"] In truth, the San Francisco music scene, unlike many of the scenes we've looked at so far in this series, had rather a limited impact on the wider world of music. Bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and Big Brother and the Holding Company were all both massively commercially successful and highly regarded by critics, but unlike many of the other bands we've looked at before and will look at in future, they didn't have much of an influence on the bands that would come after them, musically at least. Possibly this is because the music from the San Francisco scene was always primarily that -- music created by and for a specific group of people, and inextricable from its context. The San Francisco musicians were defining themselves by their geographical location, their peers, and the situation they were in, and their music was so specifically of the place and time that to attempt to copy it outside of that context would appear ridiculous, so while many of those bands remain much loved to this day, and many made some great music, it's very hard to point to ways in which that music influenced later bands. But what they did influence was the whole of rock music culture. For at least the next thirty years, and arguably to this day, the parameters in which rock musicians worked if they wanted to be taken seriously – their aesthetic and political ideals, their methods of collaboration, the cultural norms around drug use and sexual promiscuity, ideas of artistic freedom and authenticity, the choice of acceptable instruments – in short, what it meant to be a rock musician rather than a pop, jazz, country, or soul artist – all those things were defined by the cultural and behavioural norms of the San Francisco scene between about 1966 and 68. Without the San Francisco scene there's no Woodstock, no Rolling Stone magazine, no Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, no hippies, no groupies, no rock stars. So over the next few months we're going to take several trips to the Bay Area, and look at the bands which, for a brief time, defined the counterculture in America. The story of Jefferson Airplane -- and unlike other bands we've looked at recently, like The Pink Floyd and The Buffalo Springfield, they never had a definite article at the start of their name to wither away like a vestigial organ in subsequent years -- starts with Marty Balin. Balin was born in Ohio, but was a relatively sickly child -- he later talked about being autistic, and seems to have had the chronic illnesses that so often go with neurodivergence -- so in the hope that the dry air would be good for his chest his family moved to Arizona. Then when his father couldn't find work there, they moved further west to San Francisco, in the Haight-Ashbury area, long before that area became the byword for the hippie movement. But it was in LA that he started his music career, and got his surname. Balin had been named Marty Buchwald as a kid, but when he was nineteen he had accompanied a friend to LA to visit a music publisher, and had ended up singing backing vocals on her demos. While he was there, he had encountered the arranger Jimmy Haskell. Haskell was on his way to becoming one of the most prominent arrangers in the music industry, and in his long career he would go on to do arrangements for Bobby Gentry, Blondie, Steely Dan, Simon and Garfunkel, and many others. But at the time he was best known for his work on Ricky Nelson's hits: [Excerpt: Ricky Nelson, "Hello Mary Lou"] Haskell thought that Marty had the makings of a Ricky Nelson style star, as he was a good-looking young man with a decent voice, and he became a mentor for the young man. Making the kind of records that Haskell arranged was expensive, and so Haskell suggested a deal to him -- if Marty's father would pay for studio time and musicians, Haskell would make a record with him and find him a label to put it out. Marty's father did indeed pay for the studio time and the musicians -- some of the finest working in LA at the time. The record, released under the name Marty Balin, featured Jack Nitzsche on keyboards, Earl Palmer on drums, Milt Jackson on vibraphone, Red Callender on bass, and Glen Campbell and Barney Kessell on guitars, and came out on Challenge Records, a label owned by Gene Autry: [Excerpt: Marty Balin, "Nobody But You"] Neither that, nor Balin's follow-up single, sold a noticeable amount of copies, and his career as a teen idol was over before it had begun. Instead, as many musicians of his age did, he decided to get into folk music, joining a vocal harmony group called the Town Criers, who patterned themselves after the Weavers, and performed the same kind of material that every other clean-cut folk vocal group was performing at the time -- the kind of songs that John Phillips and Steve Stills and Cass Elliot and Van Dyke Parks and the rest were all performing in their own groups at the same time. The Town Criers never made any records while they were together, but some archival recordings of them have been released over the decades: [Excerpt: The Town Criers, "900 Miles"] The Town Criers split up, and Balin started performing as a solo folkie again. But like all those other then-folk musicians, Balin realised that he had to adapt to the K/T-event level folk music extinction that happened when the Beatles hit America like a meteorite. He had to form a folk-rock group if he wanted to survive -- and given that there were no venues for such a group to play in San Francisco, he also had to start a nightclub for them to play in. He started hanging around the hootenannies in the area, looking for musicians who might form an electric band. The first person he decided on was a performer called Paul Kantner, mainly because he liked his attitude. Kantner had got on stage in front of a particularly drunk, loud, crowd, and performed precisely half a song before deciding he wasn't going to perform in front of people like that and walking off stage. Kantner was the only member of the new group to be a San Franciscan -- he'd been born and brought up in the city. He'd got into folk music at university, where he'd also met a guitar player named Jorma Kaukonen, who had turned him on to cannabis, and the two had started giving music lessons at a music shop in San Jose. There Kantner had also been responsible for booking acts at a local folk club, where he'd first encountered acts like Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, a jug band which included Jerry Garcia, Pigpen McKernan, and Bob Weir, who would later go on to be the core members of the Grateful Dead: [Excerpt: Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, "In the Jailhouse Now"] Kantner had moved around a bit between Northern and Southern California, and had been friendly with two other musicians on the Californian folk scene, David Crosby and Roger McGuinn. When their new group, the Byrds, suddenly became huge, Kantner became aware of the possibility of doing something similar himself, and so when Marty Balin approached him to form a band, he agreed. On bass, they got in a musician called Bob Harvey, who actually played double bass rather than electric, and who stuck to that for the first few gigs the group played -- he had previously been in a band called the Slippery Rock String Band. On drums, they brought in Jerry Peloquin, who had formerly worked for the police, but now had a day job as an optician. And on vocals, they brought in Signe Toley -- who would soon marry and change her name to Signe Anderson, so that's how I'll talk about her to avoid confusion. The group also needed a lead guitarist though -- both Balin and Kantner were decent rhythm players and singers, but they needed someone who was a better instrumentalist. They decided to ask Kantner's old friend Jorma Kaukonen. Kaukonen was someone who was seriously into what would now be called Americana or roots music. He'd started playing the guitar as a teenager, not like most people of his generation inspired by Elvis or Buddy Holly, but rather after a friend of his had shown him how to play an old Carter Family song, "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy": [Excerpt: The Carter Family, "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy"] Kaukonen had had a far more interesting life than most of the rest of the group. His father had worked for the State Department -- and there's some suggestion he'd worked for the CIA -- and the family had travelled all over the world, staying in Pakistan, the Philippines, and Finland. For most of his childhood, he'd gone by the name Jerry, because other kids beat him up for having a foreign name and called him a Nazi, but by the time he turned twenty he was happy enough using his birth name. Kaukonen wasn't completely immune to the appeal of rock and roll -- he'd formed a rock band, The Triumphs, with his friend Jack Casady when he was a teenager, and he loved Ricky Nelson's records -- but his fate as a folkie had been pretty much sealed when he went to Antioch College. There he met up with a blues guitarist called Ian Buchanan. Buchanan never had much of a career as a professional, but he had supposedly spent nine years studying with the blues and ragtime guitar legend Rev. Gary Davis, and he was certainly a fine guitarist, as can be heard on his contribution to The Blues Project, the album Elektra put out of white Greenwich Village musicians like John Sebastian and Dave Van Ronk playing old blues songs: [Excerpt: Ian Buchanan, "The Winding Boy"] Kaukonen became something of a disciple of Buchanan -- he said later that Buchanan probably taught him how to play because he was such a terrible player and Buchanan couldn't stand to listen to it -- as did John Hammond Jr, another student at Antioch at the same time. After studying at Antioch, Kaukonen started to travel around, including spells in Greenwich Village and in the Philippines, before settling in Santa Clara, where he studied for a sociology degree and became part of a social circle that included Dino Valenti, Jerry Garcia, and Billy Roberts, the credited writer of "Hey Joe". He also started performing as a duo with a singer called Janis Joplin. Various of their recordings from this period circulate, mostly recorded at Kaukonen's home with the sound of his wife typing in the background while the duo rehearse, as on this performance of an old Bessie Smith song: [Excerpt: Jorma Kaukonen and Janis Joplin, "Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out"] By 1965 Kaukonen saw himself firmly as a folk-blues purist, who would not even think of playing rock and roll music, which he viewed with more than a little contempt. But he allowed himself to be brought along to audition for the new group, and Ken Kesey happened to be there. Kesey was a novelist who had written two best-selling books, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion, and used the financial independence that gave him to organise a group of friends who called themselves the Merry Pranksters, who drove from coast to coast and back again in a psychedelic-painted bus, before starting a series of events that became known as Acid Tests, parties at which everyone was on LSD, immortalised in Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Nobody has ever said why Kesey was there, but he had brought along an Echoplex, a reverb unit one could put a guitar through -- and nobody has explained why Kesey, who wasn't a musician, had an Echoplex to hand. But Kaukonen loved the sound that he could get by putting his guitar through the device, and so for that reason more than any other he decided to become an electric player and join the band, going out and buying a Rickenbacker twelve-string and Vox Treble Booster because that was what Roger McGuinn used. He would later also get a Guild Thunderbird six-string guitar and a Standel Super Imperial amp, following the same principle of buying the equipment used by other guitarists he liked, as they were what Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin' Spoonful used. He would use them for all his six-string playing for the next couple of years, only later to discover that the Lovin' Spoonful despised them and only used them because they had an endorsement deal with the manufacturers. Kaukonen was also the one who came up with the new group's name. He and his friends had a running joke where they had "Bluesman names", things like "Blind Outrage" and "Little Sun Goldfarb". Kaukonen's bluesman name, given to him by his friend Steve Talbot, had been Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane, a reference to the 1920s blues guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson: [Excerpt: Blind Lemon Jefferson, "Match Box Blues"] At the band meeting where they were trying to decide on a name, Kaukonen got frustrated at the ridiculous suggestions that were being made, and said "You want a stupid name? Howzabout this... Jefferson Airplane?" He said in his autobiography "It was one of those rare moments when everyone in the band agreed, and that was that. I think it was the only band meeting that ever allowed me to come away smiling." The newly-named Jefferson Airplane started to rehearse at the Matrix Club, the club that Balin had decided to open. This was run with three sound engineer friends, who put in the seed capital for the club. Balin had stock options in the club, which he got by trading a share of the band's future earnings to his partners, though as the group became bigger he eventually sold his stock in the club back to his business partners. Before their first public performance, they started working with a manager, Matthew Katz, mostly because Katz had access to a recording of a then-unreleased Bob Dylan song, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune": [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Lay Down Your Weary Tune"] The group knew that the best way for a folk-rock band to make a name for themselves was to perform a Dylan song nobody else had yet heard, and so they agreed to be managed by Katz. Katz started a pre-publicity blitz, giving out posters, badges, and bumper stickers saying "Jefferson Airplane Loves You" all over San Francisco -- and insisting that none of the band members were allowed to say "Hello" when they answered the phone any more, they had to say "Jefferson Airplane Loves You!" For their early rehearsals and gigs, they were performing almost entirely cover versions of blues and folk songs, things like Fred Neil's "The Other Side of This Life" and Dino Valenti's "Get Together" which were the common currency of the early folk-rock movement, and songs by their friends, like one called "Flower Bomb" by David Crosby, which Crosby now denies ever having written. They did start writing the odd song, but at this point they were more focused on performance than on writing. They also hired a press agent, their friend Bill Thompson. Thompson was friends with the two main music writers at the San Francisco Chronicle, Ralph Gleason, the famous jazz critic, who had recently started also reviewing rock music, and John Wasserman. Thompson got both men to come to the opening night of the Matrix, and both gave the group glowing reviews in the Chronicle. Record labels started sniffing around the group immediately as a result of this coverage, and according to Katz he managed to get a bidding war started by making sure that when A&R men came to the club there were always two of them from different labels, so they would see the other person and realise they weren't the only ones interested. But before signing a record deal they needed to make some personnel changes. The first member to go was Jerry Peloquin, for both musical and personal reasons. Peloquin was used to keeping strict time and the other musicians had a more free-flowing idea of what tempo they should be playing at, but also he had worked for the police while the other members were all taking tons of illegal drugs. The final break with Peloquin came when he did the rest of the group a favour -- Paul Kantner's glasses broke during a rehearsal, and as Peloquin was an optician he offered to take them back to his shop and fix them. When he got back, he found them auditioning replacements for him. He beat Kantner up, and that was the end of Jerry Peloquin in Jefferson Airplane. His replacement was Skip Spence, who the group had met when he had accompanied three friends to the Matrix, which they were using as a rehearsal room. Spence's friends went on to be the core members of Quicksilver Messenger Service along with Dino Valenti: [Excerpt: Quicksilver Messenger Service, "Dino's Song"] But Balin decided that Spence looked like a rock star, and told him that he was now Jefferson Airplane's drummer, despite Spence being a guitarist and singer, not a drummer. But Spence was game, and learned to play the drums. Next they needed to get rid of Bob Harvey. According to Harvey, the decision to sack him came after David Crosby saw the band rehearsing and said "Nice song, but get rid of the bass player" (along with an expletive before the word bass which I can't say without incurring the wrath of Apple). Crosby denies ever having said this. Harvey had started out in the group on double bass, but to show willing he'd switched in his last few gigs to playing an electric bass. When he was sacked by the group, he returned to double bass, and to the Slippery Rock String Band, who released one single in 1967: [Excerpt: The Slippery Rock String Band, "Tule Fog"] Harvey's replacement was Kaukonen's old friend Jack Casady, who Kaukonen knew was now playing bass, though he'd only ever heard him playing guitar when they'd played together. Casady was rather cautious about joining a rock band, but then Kaukonen told him that the band were getting fifty dollars a week salary each from Katz, and Casady flew over from Washington DC to San Francisco to join the band. For the first few gigs, he used Bob Harvey's bass, which Harvey was good enough to lend him despite having been sacked from the band. Unfortunately, right from the start Casady and Kantner didn't get on. When Casady flew in from Washington, he had a much more clean-cut appearance than the rest of the band -- one they've described as being nerdy, with short, slicked-back, side-parted hair and a handlebar moustache. Kantner insisted that Casady shave the moustache off, and he responded by shaving only one side, so in profile on one side he looked clean-shaven, while from the other side he looked like he had a full moustache. Kantner also didn't like Casady's general attitude, or his playing style, at all -- though most critics since this point have pointed to Casady's bass playing as being the most interesting and distinctive thing about Jefferson Airplane's style. This lineup seems to have been the one that travelled to LA to audition for various record companies -- a move that immediately brought the group a certain amount of criticism for selling out, both for auditioning for record companies and for going to LA at all, two things that were already anathema on the San Francisco scene. The only audition anyone remembers them having specifically is one for Phil Spector, who according to Kaukonen was waving a gun around during the audition, so he and Casady walked out. Around this time as well, the group performed at an event billed as "A Tribute to Dr. Strange", organised by the radical hippie collective Family Dog. Marvel Comics, rather than being the multi-billion-dollar Disney-owned corporate juggernaut it is now, was regarded as a hip, almost underground, company -- and around this time they briefly started billing their comics not as comics but as "Marvel Pop Art Productions". The magical adventures of Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, and in particular the art by far-right libertarian artist Steve Ditko, were regarded as clear parallels to both the occult dabblings and hallucinogen use popular among the hippies, though Ditko had no time for either, following as he did an extreme version of Ayn Rand's Objectivism. It was at the Tribute to Dr. Strange that Jefferson Airplane performed for the first time with a band named The Great Society, whose lead singer, Grace Slick, would later become very important in Jefferson Airplane's story: [Excerpt: The Great Society, "Someone to Love"] That gig was also the first one where the band and their friends noticed that large chunks of the audience were now dressing up in costumes that were reminiscent of the Old West. Up to this point, while Katz had been managing the group and paying them fifty dollars a week even on weeks when they didn't perform, he'd been doing so without a formal contract, in part because the group didn't trust him much. But now they were starting to get interest from record labels, and in particular RCA Records desperately wanted them. While RCA had been the label who had signed Elvis Presley, they had otherwise largely ignored rock and roll, considering that since they had the biggest rock star in the world they didn't need other ones, and concentrating largely on middle-of-the-road acts. But by the mid-sixties Elvis' star had faded somewhat, and they were desperate to get some of the action for the new music -- and unlike the other major American labels, they didn't have a reciprocal arrangement with a British label that allowed them to release anything by any of the new British stars. The group were introduced to RCA by Rod McKuen, a songwriter and poet who later became America's best-selling poet and wrote songs that sold over a hundred million copies. At this point McKuen was in his Jacques Brel phase, recording loose translations of the Belgian songwriter's songs with McKuen translating the lyrics: [Excerpt: Rod McKuen, "Seasons in the Sun"] McKuen thought that Jefferson Airplane might be a useful market for his own songs, and brought the group to RCA. RCA offered Jefferson Airplane twenty-five thousand dollars to sign with them, and Katz convinced the group that RCA wouldn't give them this money without them having signed a management contract with him. Kaukonen, Kantner, Spence, and Balin all signed without much hesitation, but Jack Casady didn't yet sign, as he was the new boy and nobody knew if he was going to be in the band for the long haul. The other person who refused to sign was Signe Anderson. In her case, she had a much better reason for refusing to sign, as unlike the rest of the band she had actually read the contract, and she found it to be extremely worrying. She did eventually back down on the day of the group's first recording session, but she later had the contract renegotiated. Jack Casady also signed the contract right at the start of the first session -- or at least, he thought he'd signed the contract then. He certainly signed *something*, without having read it. But much later, during a court case involving the band's longstanding legal disputes with Katz, it was revealed that the signature on the contract wasn't Casady's, and was badly forged. What he actually *did* sign that day has never been revealed, to him or to anyone else. Katz also signed all the group as songwriters to his own publishing company, telling them that they legally needed to sign with him if they wanted to make records, and also claimed to RCA that he had power of attorney for the band, which they say they never gave him -- though to be fair to Katz, given the band members' habit of signing things without reading or understanding them, it doesn't seem beyond the realms of possibility that they did. The producer chosen for the group's first album was Tommy Oliver, a friend of Katz's who had previously been an arranger on some of Doris Day's records, and whose next major act after finishing the Jefferson Airplane album was Trombones Unlimited, who released records like "Holiday for Trombones": [Excerpt: Trombones Unlimited, "Holiday For Trombones"] The group weren't particularly thrilled with this choice, but were happier with their engineer, Dave Hassinger, who had worked on records like "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones, and had a far better understanding of the kind of music the group were making. They spent about three months recording their first album, even while continually being attacked as sellouts. The album is not considered their best work, though it does contain "Blues From an Airplane", a collaboration between Spence and Balin: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Blues From an Airplane"] Even before the album came out, though, things were starting to change for the group. Firstly, they started playing bigger venues -- their home base went from being the Matrix club to the Fillmore, a large auditorium run by the promoter Bill Graham. They also started to get an international reputation. The British singer-songwriter Donovan released a track called "The Fat Angel" which namechecked the group: [Excerpt: Donovan, "The Fat Angel"] The group also needed a new drummer. Skip Spence decided to go on holiday to Mexico without telling the rest of the band. There had already been some friction with Spence, as he was very eager to become a guitarist and songwriter, and the band already had three songwriting guitarists and didn't really see why they needed a fourth. They sacked Spence, who went on to form Moby Grape, who were also managed by Katz: [Excerpt: Moby Grape, "Omaha"] For his replacement they brought in Spencer Dryden, who was a Hollywood brat like their friend David Crosby -- in Dryden's case he was Charlie Chaplin's nephew, and his father worked as Chaplin's assistant. The story normally goes that the great session drummer Earl Palmer recommended Dryden to the group, but it's also the case that Dryden had been in a band, the Heartbeats, with Tommy Oliver and the great blues guitarist Roy Buchanan, so it may well be that Oliver had recommended him. Dryden had been primarily a jazz musician, playing with people like the West Coast jazz legend Charles Lloyd, though like most jazzers he would slum it on occasion by playing rock and roll music to pay the bills. But then he'd seen an early performance by the Mothers of Invention, and realised that rock music could have a serious artistic purpose too. He'd joined a band called The Ashes, who had released one single, the Jackie DeShannon song "Is There Anything I Can Do?" in December 1965: [Excerpt: The Ashes, "Is There Anything I Can Do?"] The Ashes split up once Dryden left the group to join Jefferson Airplane, but they soon reformed without him as The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, who hooked up with Gary Usher and released several albums of psychedelic sunshine pop. Dryden played his first gig with the group at a Republican Party event on June the sixth, 1966. But by the time Dryden had joined, other problems had become apparent. The group were already feeling like it had been a big mistake to accede to Katz's demands to sign a formal contract with him, and Balin in particular was getting annoyed that he wouldn't let the band see their finances. All the money was getting paid to Katz, who then doled out money to the band when they asked for it, and they had no idea if he was actually paying them what they were owed or not. The group's first album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, finally came out in September, and it was a comparative flop. It sold well in San Francisco itself, selling around ten thousand copies in the area, but sold basically nothing anywhere else in the country -- the group's local reputation hadn't extended outside their own immediate scene. It didn't help that the album was pulled and reissued, as RCA censored the initial version of the album because of objections to the lyrics. The song "Runnin' Round This World" was pulled off the album altogether for containing the word "trips", while in "Let Me In" they had to rerecord two lines -- “I gotta get in, you know where" was altered to "You shut the door now it ain't fair" and "Don't tell me you want money" became "Don't tell me it's so funny". Similarly in "Run Around" the phrase "as you lay under me" became "as you stay here by me". Things were also becoming difficult for Anderson. She had had a baby in May and was not only unhappy with having to tour while she had a small child, she was also the band member who was most vocally opposed to Katz. Added to that, her husband did not get on well at all with the group, and she felt trapped between her marriage and her bandmates. Reports differ as to whether she quit the band or was fired, but after a disastrous appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival, one way or another she was out of the band. Her replacement was already waiting in the wings. Grace Slick, the lead singer of the Great Society, had been inspired by going to one of the early Jefferson Airplane gigs. She later said "I went to see Jefferson Airplane at the Matrix, and they were making more money in a day than I made in a week. They only worked for two or three hours a night, and they got to hang out. I thought 'This looks a lot better than what I'm doing.' I knew I could more or less carry a tune, and I figured if they could do it I could." She was married at the time to a film student named Jerry Slick, and indeed she had done the music for his final project at film school, a film called "Everybody Hits Their Brother Once", which sadly I can't find online. She was also having an affair with Jerry's brother Darby, though as the Slicks were in an open marriage this wasn't particularly untoward. The three of them, with a couple of other musicians, had formed The Great Society, named as a joke about President Johnson's programme of the same name. The Great Society was the name Johnson had given to his whole programme of domestic reforms, including civil rights for Black people, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts, and more. While those projects were broadly popular among the younger generation, Johnson's escalation of the war in Vietnam had made him so personally unpopular that even his progressive domestic programme was regarded with suspicion and contempt. The Great Society had set themselves up as local rivals to Jefferson Airplane -- where Jefferson Airplane had buttons saying "Jefferson Airplane Loves You!" the Great Society put out buttons saying "The Great Society Really Doesn't Like You Much At All". They signed to Autumn Records, and recorded a song that Darby Slick had written, titled "Someone to Love" -- though the song would later be retitled "Somebody to Love": [Excerpt: The Great Society, "Someone to Love"] That track was produced by Sly Stone, who at the time was working as a producer for Autumn Records. The Great Society, though, didn't like working with Stone, because he insisted on them doing forty-five takes to try to sound professional, as none of them were particularly competent musicians. Grace Slick later said "Sly could play any instrument known to man. He could have just made the record himself, except for the singers. It was kind of degrading in a way" -- and on another occasion she said that he *did* end up playing all the instruments on the finished record. "Someone to Love" was put out as a promo record, but never released to the general public, and nor were any of the Great Society's other recordings for Autumn Records released. Their contract expired and they were let go, at which point they were about to sign to Mercury Records, but then Darby Slick and another member decided to go off to India for a while. Grace's marriage to Jerry was falling apart, though they would stay legally married for several years, and the Great Society looked like it was at an end, so when Grace got the offer to join Jefferson Airplane to replace Signe Anderson, she jumped at the chance. At first, she was purely a harmony singer -- she didn't take over any of the lead vocal parts that Anderson had previously sung, as she had a very different vocal style, and instead she just sang the harmony parts that Anderson had sung on songs with other lead vocalists. But two months after the album they were back in the studio again, recording their second album, and Slick sang lead on several songs there. As well as the new lineup, there was another important change in the studio. They were still working with Dave Hassinger, but they had a new producer, Rick Jarrard. Jarrard was at one point a member of the folk group The Wellingtons, who did the theme tune for "Gilligan's Island", though I can't find anything to say whether or not he was in the group when they recorded that track: [Excerpt: The Wellingtons, "The Ballad of Gilligan's Island"] Jarrard had also been in the similar folk group The Greenwood County Singers, where as we heard in the episode on "Heroes and Villains" he replaced Van Dyke Parks. He'd also released a few singles under his own name, including a version of Parks' "High Coin": [Excerpt: Rick Jarrard, "High Coin"] While Jarrard had similar musical roots to those of Jefferson Airplane's members, and would go on to produce records by people like Harry Nilsson and The Family Tree, he wasn't any more liked by the band than their previous producer had been. So much so, that a few of the band members have claimed that while Jarrard is the credited producer, much of the work that one would normally expect to be done by a producer was actually done by their friend Jerry Garcia, who according to the band members gave them a lot of arranging and structural advice, and was present in the studio and played guitar on several tracks. Jarrard, on the other hand, said categorically "I never met Jerry Garcia. I produced that album from start to finish, never heard from Jerry Garcia, never talked to Jerry Garcia. He was not involved creatively on that album at all." According to the band, though, it was Garcia who had the idea of almost doubling the speed of the retitled "Somebody to Love", turning it into an uptempo rocker: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Somebody to Love"] And one thing everyone is agreed on is that it was Garcia who came up with the album title, when after listening to some of the recordings he said "That's as surrealistic as a pillow!" It was while they were working on the album that was eventually titled Surrealistic Pillow that they finally broke with Katz as their manager, bringing Bill Thompson in as a temporary replacement. Or at least, it was then that they tried to break with Katz. Katz sued the group over their contract, and won. Then they appealed, and they won. Then Katz appealed the appeal, and the Superior Court insisted that if he wanted to appeal the ruling, he had to put up a bond for the fifty thousand dollars the group said he owed them. He didn't, so in 1970, four years after they sacked him as their manager, the appeal was dismissed. Katz appealed the dismissal, and won that appeal, and the case dragged on for another three years, at which point Katz dragged RCA Records into the lawsuit. As a result of being dragged into the mess, RCA decided to stop paying the group their songwriting royalties from record sales directly, and instead put the money into an escrow account. The claims and counterclaims and appeals *finally* ended in 1987, twenty years after the lawsuits had started and fourteen years after the band had stopped receiving their songwriting royalties. In the end, the group won on almost every point, and finally received one point three million dollars in back royalties and seven hundred thousand dollars in interest that had accrued, while Katz got a small token payment. Early in 1967, when the sessions for Surrealistic Pillow had finished, but before the album was released, Newsweek did a big story on the San Francisco scene, which drew national attention to the bands there, and the first big event of what would come to be called the hippie scene, the Human Be-In, happened in Golden Gate Park in January. As the group's audience was expanding rapidly, they asked Bill Graham to be their manager, as he was the most business-minded of the people around the group. The first single from the album, "My Best Friend", a song written by Skip Spence before he quit the band, came out in January 1967 and had no more success than their earlier recordings had, and didn't make the Hot 100. The album came out in February, and was still no higher than number 137 on the charts in March, when the second single, "Somebody to Love", was released: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Somebody to Love"] That entered the charts at the start of April, and by June it had made number five. The single's success also pushed its parent album up to number three by August, just behind the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Monkees' Headquarters. The success of the single also led to the group being asked to do commercials for Levis jeans: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Levis commercial"] That once again got them accused of selling out. Abbie Hoffman, the leader of the Yippies, wrote to the Village Voice about the commercials, saying "It summarized for me all the doubts I have about the hippie philosophy. I realise they are just doing their 'thing', but while the Jefferson Airplane grooves with its thing, over 100 workers in the Levi Strauss plant on the Tennessee-Georgia border are doing their thing, which consists of being on strike to protest deplorable working conditions." The third single from the album, "White Rabbit", came out on the twenty-fourth of June, the day before the Beatles recorded "All You Need is Love", nine days after the release of "See Emily Play", and a week after the group played the Monterey Pop Festival, to give you some idea of how compressed a time period we've been in recently. We talked in the last episode about how there's a big difference between American and British psychedelia at this point in time, because the political nature of the American counterculture was determined by the fact that so many people were being sent off to die in Vietnam. Of all the San Francisco bands, though, Jefferson Airplane were by far the least political -- they were into the culture part of the counterculture, but would often and repeatedly disavow any deeper political meaning in their songs. In early 1968, for example, in a press conference, they said “Don't ask us anything about politics. We don't know anything about it. And what we did know, we just forgot.” So it's perhaps not surprising that of all the American groups, they were the one that was most similar to the British psychedelic groups in their influences, and in particular their frequent references to children's fantasy literature. "White Rabbit" was a perfect example of this. It had started out as "White Rabbit Blues", a song that Slick had written influenced by Alice in Wonderland, and originally performed by the Great Society: [Excerpt: The Great Society, "White Rabbit"] Slick explained the lyrics, and their association between childhood fantasy stories and drugs, later by saying "It's an interesting song but it didn't do what I wanted it to. What I was trying to say was that between the ages of zero and five the information and the input you get is almost indelible. In other words, once a Catholic, always a Catholic. And the parents read us these books, like Alice in Wonderland where she gets high, tall, and she takes mushrooms, a hookah, pills, alcohol. And then there's The Wizard of Oz, where they fall into a field of poppies and when they wake up they see Oz. And then there's Peter Pan, where if you sprinkle white dust on you, you could fly. And then you wonder why we do it? Well, what did you read to me?" While the lyrical inspiration for the track was from Alice in Wonderland, the musical inspiration is less obvious. Slick has on multiple occasions said that the idea for the music came from listening to Miles Davis' album "Sketches of Spain", and in particular to Davis' version of -- and I apologise for almost certainly mangling the Spanish pronunciation badly here -- "Concierto de Aranjuez", though I see little musical resemblance to it myself. [Excerpt: Miles Davis, "Concierto de Aranjuez"] She has also, though, talked about how the song was influenced by Ravel's "Bolero", and in particular the way the piece keeps building in intensity, starting softly and slowly building up, rather than having the dynamic peaks and troughs of most music. And that is definitely a connection I can hear in the music: [Excerpt: Ravel, "Bolero"] Jefferson Airplane's version of "White Rabbit", like their version of "Somebody to Love", was far more professional, far -- and apologies for the pun -- slicker than The Great Society's version. It's also much shorter. The version by The Great Society has a four and a half minute instrumental intro before Slick's vocal enters. By contrast, the version on Surrealistic Pillow comes in at under two and a half minutes in total, and is a tight pop song: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit"] Jack Casady has more recently said that the group originally recorded the song more or less as a lark, because they assumed that all the drug references would mean that RCA would make them remove the song from the album -- after all, they'd cut a song from the earlier album because it had a reference to a trip, so how could they possibly allow a song like "White Rabbit" with its lyrics about pills and mushrooms? But it was left on the album, and ended up making the top ten on the pop charts, peaking at number eight: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit"] In an interview last year, Slick said she still largely lives off the royalties from writing that one song. It would be the last hit single Jefferson Airplane would ever have. Marty Balin later said "Fame changes your life. It's a bit like prison. It ruined the band. Everybody became rich and selfish and self-centred and couldn't care about the band. That was pretty much the end of it all. After that it was just working and living the high life and watching the band destroy itself, living on its laurels." They started work on their third album, After Bathing at Baxter's, in May 1967, while "Somebody to Love" was still climbing the charts. This time, the album was produced by Al Schmitt. Unlike the two previous producers, Schmitt was a fan of the band, and decided the best thing to do was to just let them do their own thing without interfering. The album took months to record, rather than the weeks that Surrealistic Pillow had taken, and cost almost ten times as much money to record. In part the time it took was because of the promotional work the band had to do. Bill Graham was sending them all over the country to perform, which they didn't appreciate. The group complained to Graham in business meetings, saying they wanted to only play in big cities where there were lots of hippies. Graham pointed out in turn that if they wanted to keep having any kind of success, they needed to play places other than San Francisco, LA, New York, and Chicago, because in fact most of the population of the US didn't live in those four cities. They grudgingly took his point. But there were other arguments all the time as well. They argued about whether Graham should be taking his cut from the net or the gross. They argued about Graham trying to push for the next single to be another Grace Slick lead vocal -- they felt like he was trying to make them into just Grace Slick's backing band, while he thought it made sense to follow up two big hits with more singles with the same vocalist. There was also a lawsuit from Balin's former partners in the Matrix, who remembered that bit in the contract about having a share in the group's income and sued for six hundred thousand dollars -- that was settled out of court three years later. And there were interpersonal squabbles too. Some of these were about the music -- Dryden didn't like the fact that Kaukonen's guitar solos were getting longer and longer, and Balin only contributed one song to the new album because all the other band members made fun of him for writing short, poppy, love songs rather than extended psychedelic jams -- but also the group had become basically two rival factions. On one side were Kaukonen and Casady, the old friends and virtuoso instrumentalists, who wanted to extend the instrumental sections of the songs more to show off their playing. On the other side were Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden, the two oldest members of the group by age, but the most recent people to join. They were also unusual in the San Francisco scene for having alcohol as their drug of choice -- drinking was thought of by most of the hippies as being a bit classless, but they were both alcoholics. They were also sleeping together, and generally on the side of shorter, less exploratory, songs. Kantner, who was attracted to Slick, usually ended up siding with her and Dryden, and this left Balin the odd man out in the middle. He later said "I got disgusted with all the ego trips, and the band was so stoned that I couldn't even talk to them. Everybody was in their little shell". While they were still working on the album, they released the first single from it, Kantner's "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil". The "Pooneil" in the song was a figure that combined two of Kantner's influences: the Greenwich Village singer-songwriter Fred Neil, the writer of "Everybody's Talkin'" and "Dolphins"; and Winnie the Pooh. The song contained several lines taken from A.A. Milne's children's stories: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil"] That only made number forty-two on the charts. It was the last Jefferson Airplane single to make the top fifty. At a gig in Bakersfield they got arrested for inciting a riot, because they encouraged the crowd to dance, even though local by-laws said that nobody under sixteen was allowed to dance, and then they nearly got arrested again after Kantner's behaviour on the private plane they'd chartered to get them back to San Francisco that night. Kantner had been chain-smoking, and this annoyed the pilot, who asked Kantner to put his cigarette out, so Kantner opened the door of the plane mid-flight and threw the lit cigarette out. They'd chartered that plane because they wanted to make sure they got to see a new group, Cream, who were playing the Fillmore: [Excerpt: Cream, "Strange Brew"] After seeing that, the divisions in the band were even wider -- Kaukonen and Casady now *knew* that what the band needed was to do long, extended, instrumental jams. Cream were the future, two-minute pop songs were the past. Though they weren't completely averse to two-minute pop songs. The group were recording at RCA studios at the same time as the Monkees, and members of the two groups would often jam together. The idea of selling out might have been anathema to their *audience*, but the band members themselves didn't care about things like that. Indeed, at one point the group returned from a gig to the mansion they were renting and found squatters had moved in and were using their private pool -- so they shot at the water. The squatters quickly moved on. As Dryden put it "We all -- Paul, Jorma, Grace, and myself -- had guns. We weren't hippies. Hippies were the people that lived on the streets down in Haight-Ashbury. We were basically musicians and art school kids. We were into guns and machinery" After Bathing at Baxter's only went to number seventeen on the charts, not a bad position but a flop compared to their previous album, and Bill Graham in particular took this as more proof that he had been right when for the last few months he'd been attacking the group as self-indulgent. Eventually, Slick and Dryden decided that either Bill Graham was going as their manager, or they were going. Slick even went so far as to try to negotiate a solo deal with Elektra Records -- as the voice on the hits, everyone was telling her she was the only one who mattered anyway. David Anderle, who was working for the label, agreed a deal with her, but Jac Holzman refused to authorise the deal, saying "Judy Collins doesn't get that much money, why should Grace Slick?" The group did fire Graham, and went one further and tried to become his competitors. They teamed up with the Grateful Dead to open a new venue, the Carousel Ballroom, to compete with the Fillmore, but after a few months they realised they were no good at running a venue and sold it to Graham. Graham, who was apparently unhappy with the fact that the people living around the Fillmore were largely Black given that the bands he booked appealed to mostly white audiences, closed the original Fillmore, renamed the Carousel the Fillmore West, and opened up a second venue in New York, the Fillmore East. The divisions in the band were getting worse -- Kaukonen and Casady were taking more and more speed, which was making them play longer and faster instrumental solos whether or not the rest of the band wanted them to, and Dryden, whose hands often bled from trying to play along with them, definitely did not want them to. But the group soldiered on and recorded their fourth album, Crown of Creation. This album contained several songs that were influenced by science fiction novels. The most famous of these was inspired by the right-libertarian author Robert Heinlein, who was hugely influential on the counterculture. Jefferson Airplane's friends the Monkees had already recorded a song based on Heinlein's The Door Into Summer, an unintentionally disturbing novel about a thirty-year-old man who falls in love with a twelve-year-old girl, and who uses a combination of time travel and cryogenic freezing to make their ages closer together so he can marry her: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "The Door Into Summer"] Now Jefferson Airplane were recording a song based on Heinlein's most famous novel, Stranger in a Strange Land. Stranger in a Strange Land has dated badly, thanks to its casual homophobia and rape-apologia, but at the time it was hugely popular in hippie circles for its advocacy of free love and group marriages -- so popular that a religion, the Church of All Worlds, based itself on the book. David Crosby had taken inspiration from it and written "Triad", a song asking two women if they'll enter into a polygamous relationship with him, and recorded it with the Byrds: [Excerpt: The Byrds, "Triad"] But the other members of the Byrds disliked the song, and it was left unreleased for decades. As Crosby was friendly with Jefferson Airplane, and as members of the band were themselves advocates of open relationships, they recorded their own version with Slick singing lead: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Triad"] The other song on the album influenced by science fiction was the title track, Paul Kantner's "Crown of Creation". This song was inspired by The Chrysalids, a novel by the British writer John Wyndham. The Chrysalids is one of Wyndham's most influential novels, a post-apocalyptic story about young children who are born with mutant superpowers and have to hide them from their parents as they will be killed if they're discovered. The novel is often thought to have inspired Marvel Comics' X-Men, and while there's an unpleasant eugenic taste to its ending, with the idea that two species can't survive in the same ecological niche and the younger, "superior", species must outcompete the old, that idea also had a lot of influence in the counterculture, as well as being a popular one in science fiction. Kantner's song took whole lines from The Chrysalids, much as he had earlier done with A.A. Milne: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Crown of Creation"] The Crown of Creation album was in some ways a return to the more focused songwriting of Surrealistic Pillow, although the sessions weren't without their experiments. Slick and Dryden collaborated with Frank Zappa and members of the Mothers of Invention on an avant-garde track called "Would You Like a Snack?" (not the same song as the later Zappa song of the same name) which was intended for the album, though went unreleased until a CD box set decades later: [Excerpt: Grace Slick and Frank Zappa, "Would You Like a Snack?"] But the finished album was generally considered less self-indulgent than After Bathing at Baxter's, and did better on the charts as a result. It reached number six, becoming their second and last top ten album, helped by the group's appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in September 1968, a month after it came out. That appearance was actually organised by Colonel Tom Parker, who suggested them to Sullivan as a favour to RCA Records. But another TV appearance at the time was less successful. They appeared on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, one of the most popular TV shows among the young, hip, audience that the group needed to appeal to, but Slick appeared in blackface. She's later said that there was no political intent behind this, and that she was just trying the different makeup she found in the dressing room as a purely aesthetic thing, but that doesn't really explain the Black power salute she gives at one point. Slick was increasingly obnoxious on stage, as her drinking was getting worse and her relationship with Dryden was starting to break down. Just before the Smothers Brothers appearance she was accused at a benefit for the Whitney Museum of having called the audience "filthy Jews", though she has always said that what she actually said was "filthy jewels", and she was talking about the ostentatious jewellery some of the audience were wearing. The group struggled through a performance at Altamont -- an event we will talk about in a future episode, so I won't go into it here, except to say that it was a horrifying experience for everyone involved -- and performed at Woodstock, before releasing their fifth studio album, Volunteers, in 1969: [Excerpt: Jefferson Airplane, "Volunteers"] That album made the top twenty, but was the last album by the classic lineup of the band. By this point Spencer Dryden and Grace Slick had broken up, with Slick starting to date Kantner, and Dryden was also disappointed at the group's musical direction, and left. Balin also left, feeling sidelined in the group. They released several more albums with varying lineups, including at various points their old friend David Frieberg of Quicksilver Messenger Service, the violinist Papa John Creach, and the former drummer of the Turtles, Johnny Barbata. But as of 1970 the group's members had already started working on two side projects -- an acoustic band called Hot Tuna, led by Kaukonen and Casady, which sometimes also featured Balin, and a project called Paul Kantner's Jefferson Starship, which also featured Slick and had recorded an album, Blows Against the Empire, the second side of which was based on the Robert Heinlein novel Back to Methuselah, and which became one of the first albums ever nominated for science fiction's Hugo Awards: [Excerpt: Jefferson Starship, "Have You Seen The Stars Tonite"] That album featured contributions from David Crosby and members of the Grateful Dead, as well as Casady on two tracks, but  in 1974 when Kaukonen and Casady quit Jefferson Airplane to make Hot Tuna their full-time band, Kantner, Slick, and Frieberg turned Jefferson Starship into a full band. Over the next decade, Jefferson Starship had a lot of moderate-sized hits, with a varying lineup that at one time or another saw several members, including Slick, go and return, and saw Marty Balin back with them for a while. In 1984, Kantner left the group, and sued them to stop them using the Jefferson Starship name. A settlement was reached in which none of Kantner, Slick, Kaukonen, or Casady could use the words "Jefferson" or "Airplane" in their band-names without the permission of all the others, and the remaining members of Jefferson Starship renamed their band just Starship -- and had three number one singles in the late eighties with Slick on lead, becoming far more commercially successful than their precursor bands had ever been: [Excerpt: Starship, "We Built This City on Rock & Roll"] Slick left Starship in 1989, and there was a brief Jefferson Airplane reunion tour, with all the classic members but Dryden, but then Slick decided that she was getting too old to perform rock and roll music, and decided to retire from music and become a painter, something she's stuck to for more than thirty years. Kantner and Balin formed a new Jefferson Starship, called Jefferson Starship: The Next Generation, but Kantner died in January 2016, coincidentally on the same day as Signe Anderson, who had occasionally guested with her old bandmates in the new version of the band. Balin, who had quit the reunited Jefferson Starship due to health reasons, died two years later. Dryden had died in 2005. Currently, there are three bands touring that descend directly from Jefferson Airplane. Hot Tuna still continue to perform, there's a version of Starship that tours featuring one original member, Mickey Thomas, and the reunited Jefferson Starship still tour, led by David Frieberg. Grace Slick has given the latter group her blessing, and even co-wrote one song on their most recent album, released in 2020, though she still doesn't perform any more. Jefferson Airplane's period in the commercial spotlight was brief -- they had charting singles for only a matter of months, and while they had top twenty albums for a few years after their peak, they really only mattered to the wider world during that brief period of the Summer of Love. But precisely because their period of success was so short, their music is indelibly associated with that time. To this day there's nothing as evocative of summer 1967 as "White Rabbit", even for those of us who weren't born then. And while Grace Slick had her problems, as I've made very clear in this episode, she inspired a whole generation of women who went on to be singers themselves, as one of the first prominent women to sing lead with an electric rock band. And when she got tired of doing that, she stopped, and got on with her other artistic pursuits, without feeling the need to go back and revisit the past for ever diminishing returns. One might only wish that some of her male peers had followed her example.

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The World Is Wrong
...about The Indian Runner (1991)

The World Is Wrong

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2022 101:52

Sean Penn interprets a stark Springsteen song as his directorial debut and launches the career of Viggo MortensenWritten & Directed by Sean Penn. Starring David Morse, Viggo Mortensen, Patricia Arquette, Valeria Golino, Charles Bronson, Sandy Dennis & Dennis Hopper How is the world wrong about The Indian Runner? From Andras: Sean Penn's first film as a director is his best. Is it the first films of the 1990's? A difficult character study based upon “Highway Patrolman”, a Bruce Springsteen song from his dark acoustic masterpiece “Nebraska” featuring three of the decade's most defining cinematic performers; Patricia Arquette, Benicio Del Toro (in one scene) and Viggo Mortensen's debut as a leading man/anti-hero. And yet…you don't really hear people talk about this film much. That's just plain wrong.Find all of our episodes at www.theworldiswrongpodcast.comFollow us on Instagram @theworldiswrongpodcast Follow us on Twitter @worldiswrongpodFollow us on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKE5tmbr-I_hLe_W9pUqXagFind all things Andras Jones at https://previouslyyours.com/ The World Is Wrong theme song written, produced and performed by Andras JonesCheck out: The Director's Wall with Bryan Connolly & AJ Gonzalez&The Radio8Ball Show hosted by Andras JonesSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

The Paper Crane
Eric Chenaux

The Paper Crane

Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2022 65:14

This week's guest is the fabulous musician Eric Chenaux!A great conversation on creativity, song writing and much more.Here is the wide range of artists mentioned in the interview for you to look into:Stewart Lee. Steven Wright. Loren Mazzacane Conners. Inside Out Music. Martin Arnold.Ryan Driver. Eric Cazdy. Paul Bley – Open to Love. Townes Van Zandt. Obscure Records. John Cage. David Toop. Gavin Bryiars – The Sinking of the Titanic, Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet. John White. The Scratch Orchestra. Irma Opera. Jack Nitzsche. Feu Therese. Efrim Menuck. Joni Void. Polmo Polpo aka Sandro Perri. Sly Stone. Carla Bley. EPMD. Gang Starr.Eric Chenaux - There's Our LoveGet in touch with the show: info@codesintheclouds.net or @codesclouds on Instagram and Twitter Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 152: “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2022

Episode 152 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “For What It's Worth”, and the short but eventful career of Buffalo Springfield. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-five-minute bonus episode available, on "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by Glen Campbell. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources As usual, there's a Mixcloud mix containing all the songs excerpted in the episode. This four-CD box set is the definitive collection of Buffalo Springfield's work, while if you want the mono version of the second album, the stereo version of the first, and the final album as released, but no demos or outtakes, you want this more recent box set. For What It's Worth: The Story of Buffalo Springfield by Richey Furay and John Einarson is obviously Furay's version of the story, but all the more interesting for that. For information on Steve Stills' early life I used Stephen Stills: Change Partners by David Roberts.  Information on both Stills and Young comes from Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young by David Browne.  Jimmy McDonough's Shakey is the definitive biography of Neil Young, while Young's Waging Heavy Peace is his autobiography. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A quick note before we begin -- this episode deals with various disabilities. In particular, there are descriptions of epileptic seizures that come from non-medically-trained witnesses, many of whom took ableist attitudes towards the seizures. I don't know enough about epilepsy to know how accurate their descriptions and perceptions are, and I apologise if that means that by repeating some of their statements, I am inadvertently passing on myths about the condition. When I talk about this, I am talking about the after-the-fact recollections of musicians, none of them medically trained and many of them in altered states of consciousness, about events that had happened decades earlier. Please do not take anything said in a podcast about music history as being the last word on the causes or effects of epileptic seizures, rather than how those musicians remember them. Anyway, on with the show. One of the things you notice if you write about protest songs is that a lot of the time, the songs that people talk about as being important or impactful have aged very poorly. Even great songwriters like Bob Dylan or John Lennon, when writing material about the political events of the time, would write material they would later acknowledge was far from their best. Too often a song will be about a truly important event, and be powered by a real sense of outrage at injustice, but it will be overly specific, and then as soon as the immediate issue is no longer topical, the song is at best a curio. For example, the sentencing of the poet and rock band manager John Sinclair to ten years in prison for giving two joints to an undercover police officer was hugely controversial in the early seventies, but by the time John Lennon's song about it was released, Sinclair had been freed by the Supreme Court, and very, very few people would use the song as an example of why Lennon's songwriting still has lasting value: [Excerpt: John Lennon, "John Sinclair"] But there are exceptions, and those tend to be songs where rather than talking about specific headlines, the song is about the emotion that current events have caused. Ninety years on from its first success, for example, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" still has resonance, because there are still people who are put out of work through no fault of their own, and even those of us who are lucky enough to be financially comfortable have the fear that all too soon it may end, and we may end up like Al begging on the streets: [Excerpt: Rudy Vallee, "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"] And because of that emotional connection, sometimes the very best protest songs can take on new lives and new meanings, and connect with the way people feel about totally unrelated subjects. Take Buffalo Springfield's one hit. The actual subject of the song couldn't be any more trivial in the grand scheme of things -- a change in zoning regulations around the Sunset Strip that meant people under twenty-one couldn't go to the clubs after 10PM, and the subsequent reaction to that -- but because rather than talking about the specific incident, Steve Stills instead talked about the emotions that it called up, and just noted the fleeting images that he was left with, the song became adopted as an anthem by soldiers in Vietnam. Sometimes what a song says is nowhere near as important as how it says it. [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "For What It's Worth"] Steve Stills seems almost to have been destined to be a musician, although the instrument he started on, the drums, was not the one for which he would become best known. According to Stills, though, he always had an aptitude for rhythm, to the extent that he learned to tapdance almost as soon as he had learned to walk. He started on drums aged eight or nine, after somebody gave him a set of drumsticks. After his parents got sick of him damaging the furniture by playing on every available surface, an actual drum kit followed, and that became his principal instrument, even after he learned to play the guitar at military school, as his roommate owned one. As a teenager, Stills developed an idiosyncratic taste in music, helped by the record collection of his friend Michael Garcia. He didn't particularly like most of the pop music of the time, but he was a big fan of pre-war country music, Motown, girl-group music -- he especially liked the Shirelles -- and Chess blues. He was also especially enamoured of the music of Jimmy Reed, a passion he would later share with his future bandmate Neil Young: [Excerpt: Jimmy Reed, "Baby, What You Want Me To Do?"] In his early teens, he became the drummer for a band called the Radars, and while he was drumming he studied their lead guitarist, Chuck Schwin.  He said later "There was a whole little bunch of us who were into kind of a combination of all the blues guys and others including Chet Atkins, Dick Dale, and Hank Marvin: a very weird cross-section of far-out guitar players." Stills taught himself to play like those guitarists, and in particular he taught himself how to emulate Atkins' Travis-picking style, and became remarkably proficient at it. There exists a recording of him, aged sixteen, singing one of his own songs and playing finger-picked guitar, and while the song is not exactly the strongest thing I've ever heard lyrically, it's clearly the work of someone who is already a confident performer: [Excerpt: Stephen Stills, "Travellin'"] But the main reason he switched to becoming a guitarist wasn't because of his admiration for Chet Atkins or Hank Marvin, but because he started driving and discovered that if you have to load a drum kit into your car and then drive it to rehearsals and gigs you either end up bashing up your car or bashing up the drum kit. As this is not a problem with guitars, Stills decided that he'd move on from the Radars, and join a band named the Continentals as their rhythm guitarist, playing with lead guitarist Don Felder. Stills was only in the Continentals for a few months though, before being replaced by another guitarist, Bernie Leadon, and in general Stills' whole early life is one of being uprooted and moved around. His father had jobs in several different countries, and while for the majority of his time Stills was in the southern US, he also ended up spending time in Costa Rica -- and staying there as a teenager even as the rest of his family moved to El Salvador. Eventually, aged eighteen, he moved to New Orleans, where he formed a folk duo with a friend, Chris Sarns. The two had very different tastes in folk music -- Stills preferred Dylan-style singer-songwriters, while Sarns liked the clean sound of the Kingston Trio -- but they played together for several months before moving to Greenwich Village, where they performed together and separately. They were latecomers to the scene, which had already mostly ended, and many of the folk stars had already gone on to do bigger things. But Stills still saw plenty of great performers there -- Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk in the jazz clubs, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, and Richard Pryor in the comedy ones, and Simon and Garfunkel, Richie Havens, Fred Neil and Tim Hardin in the folk ones -- Stills said that other than Chet Atkins, Havens, Neil, and Hardin were the people most responsible for his guitar style. Stills was also, at this time, obsessed with Judy Collins' third album -- the album which had featured Roger McGuinn on banjo and arrangements, and which would soon provide several songs for the Byrds to cover: [Excerpt: Judy Collins, "Turn, Turn, Turn"] Judy Collins would soon become a very important figure in Stills' life, but for now she was just the singer on his favourite record. While the Greenwich Village folk scene was no longer quite what it had been a year or two earlier, it was still a great place for a young talented musician to perform. As well as working with Chris Sarns, Stills also formed a trio with his friend John Hopkins and a banjo player called Peter Tork who everyone said looked just like Stills. Tork soon headed out west to seek his fortune, and then Stills got headhunted to join the Au Go Go Singers. This was a group that was being set up in the same style as the New Christy Minstrels -- a nine-piece vocal and instrumental group that would do clean-sounding versions of currently-popular folk songs. The group were signed to Roulette Records, and recorded one album, They Call Us Au-Go-Go Singers, produced by Hugo and Luigi, the production duo we've previously seen working with everyone from the Tokens to the Isley Brothers. Much of the album is exactly the same kind of thing that a million New Christy Minstrels soundalikes were putting out -- and Stills, with his raspy voice, was clearly intended to be the Barry McGuire of this group -- but there was one exception -- a song called "High Flyin' Bird", on which Stills was able to show off the sound that would later make him famous, and which became so associated with him that even though it was written by Billy Edd Wheeler, the writer of "Jackson", even the biography of Stills I used in researching this episode credits "High Flyin' Bird" as being a Stills original: [Excerpt: The Au-Go-Go Singers, "High Flyin' Bird"] One of the other members of the Au-Go-Go Singers, Richie Furay, also got to sing a lead vocal on the album, on the Tom Paxton song "Where I'm Bound": [Excerpt: The Au-Go-Go Singers, "Where I'm Bound"] The Au-Go-Go Singers got a handful of dates around the folk scene, and Stills and Furay became friendly with another singer playing the same circuit, Gram Parsons. Parsons was one of the few people they knew who could see the value in current country music, and convinced both Stills and Furay to start paying more attention to what was coming out of Nashville and Bakersfield. But soon the Au-Go-Go Singers split up. Several venues where they might otherwise have been booked were apparently scared to book an act that was associated with Morris Levy, and also the market for big folk ensembles dried up more or less overnight when the Beatles hit the music scene. But several of the group -- including Stills but not Furay -- decided they were going to continue anyway, and formed a group called The Company, and they went on a tour of Canada. And one of the venues they played was the Fourth Dimension coffee house in Fort William, Ontario, and there their support act was a rock band called The Squires: [Excerpt: The Squires, "(I'm a Man And) I Can't Cry"] The lead guitarist of the Squires, Neil Young, had a lot in common with Stills, and they bonded instantly. Both men had parents who had split up when they were in their teens, and had a successful but rather absent father and an overbearing mother. And both had shown an interest in music even as babies. According to Young's mother, when he was still in nappies, he would pull himself up by the bars  of his playpen and try to dance every time he heard "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie": [Excerpt: Pinetop Smith, "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie"] Young, though, had had one crucial experience which Stills had not had. At the age of six, he'd come down with polio, and become partially paralysed. He'd spent months in hospital before he regained his ability to walk, and the experience had also affected him in other ways. While he was recovering, he would draw pictures of trains -- other than music, his big interest, almost an obsession, was with electric train sets, and that obsession would remain with him throughout his life -- but for the first time he was drawing with his right hand rather than his left. He later said "The left-hand side got a little screwed. Feels different from the right. If I close my eyes, my left side, I really don't know where it is—but over the years I've discovered that almost one hundred percent for sure it's gonna be very close to my right side … probably to the left. That's why I started appearing to be ambidextrous, I think. Because polio affected my left side, and I think I was left-handed when I was born. What I have done is use the weak side as the dominant one because the strong side was injured." Both Young's father Scott Young -- a very famous Canadian writer and sports broadcaster, who was by all accounts as well known in Canada during his lifetime as his son -- and Scott's brother played ukulele, and they taught Neil how to play, and his first attempt at forming a group had been to get his friend Comrie Smith to get a pair of bongos and play along with him to Preston Epps' "Bongo Rock": [Excerpt: Preston Epps, "Bongo Rock"] Neil Young had liked all the usual rock and roll stars of the fifties  -- though in his personal rankings, Elvis came a distant third behind Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis -- but his tastes ran more to the more darkly emotional. He loved "Maybe" by the Chantels, saying "Raw soul—you cannot miss it. That's the real thing. She was believin' every word she was singin'." [Excerpt: The Chantels, "Maybe"] What he liked more than anything was music that had a mainstream surface but seemed slightly off-kilter. He was a major fan of Roy Orbison, saying, "it's almost impossible to comprehend the depth of that soul. It's so deep and dark it just keeps on goin' down—but it's not black. It's blue, deep blue. He's just got it. The drama. There's something sad but proud about Roy's music", and he would say similar things about Del Shannon, saying "He struck me as the ultimate dark figure—behind some Bobby Rydell exterior, y'know? “Hats Off to Larry,” “Runaway,” “Swiss Maid”—very, very inventive. The stuff was weird. Totally unaffected." More surprisingly, perhaps, he was a particular fan of Bobby Darin, who he admired so much because Darin could change styles at the drop of a hat, going from novelty rock and roll like "Splish Splash" to crooning "Mack The Knife" to singing Tim Hardin songs like "If I Were a Carpenter", without any of them seeming any less authentic. As he put it later "He just changed. He's completely different. And he's really into it. Doesn't sound like he's not there. “Dream Lover,” “Mack the Knife,” “If I Were a Carpenter,” “Queen of the Hop,” “Splish Splash”—tell me about those records, Mr. Darin. Did you write those all the same day, or what happened? He just changed so much. Just kinda went from one place to another. So it's hard to tell who Bobby Darin really was." And one record which Young was hugely influenced by was Floyd Cramer's country instrumental, "Last Date": [Excerpt: Floyd Cramer, "Last Date"] Now, that was a very important record in country music, and if you want to know more about it I strongly recommend listening to the episode of Cocaine and Rhinestones on the Nashville A-Team, which has a long section on the track, but the crucial thing to know about that track is that it's one of the earliest examples of what is known as slip-note playing, where the piano player, before hitting the correct note, briefly hits the note a tone below it, creating a brief discord. Young absolutely loved that sound, and wanted to make a sound like that on the guitar. And then, when he and his mother moved to Winnipeg after his parents' divorce, he found someone who was doing just that. It was the guitarist in a group variously known as Chad Allan and the Reflections and Chad Allan and the Expressions. That group had relatives in the UK who would send them records, and so where most Canadian bands would do covers of American hits, Chad Allan and the Reflections would do covers of British hits, like their version of Geoff Goddard's "Tribute to Buddy Holly", a song that had originally been produced by Joe Meek: [Excerpt: Chad Allan and the Reflections, "Tribute to Buddy Holly"] That would later pay off for them in a big way, when they recorded a version of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' "Shakin' All Over", for which their record label tried to create an air of mystery by releasing it with no artist name, just "Guess Who?" on the label. It became a hit, the name stuck, and they became The Guess Who: [Excerpt: The Guess Who, "Shakin' All Over"] But at this point they, and their guitarist Randy Bachman, were just another group playing around Winnipeg. Bachman, though, was hugely impressive to Neil Young for a few reasons. The first was that he really did have a playing style that was a lot like the piano style of Floyd Cramer -- Young would later say "it was Randy Bachman who did it first. Randy was the first one I ever heard do things on the guitar that reminded me of Floyd. He'd do these pulls—“darrr darrrr,” this two-note thing goin' together—harmony, with one note pulling and the other note stayin' the same." Bachman also had built the first echo unit that Young heard a guitarist play in person. He'd discovered that by playing with the recording heads on a tape recorder owned by his mother, he could replicate the tape echo that Sam Phillips had used at Sun Studios -- and once he'd attached that to his amplifier, he realised how much the resulting sound sounded like his favourite guitarist, Hank Marvin of the Shadows, another favourite of Neil Young's: [Excerpt: The Shadows, "Man of Mystery"] Young soon started looking to Bachman as something of a mentor figure, and he would learn a lot of guitar techniques second hand from Bachman -- every time a famous musician came to the area, Bachman would go along and stand right at the front and watch the guitarist, and make note of the positions their fingers were in. Then Bachman would replicate those guitar parts with the Reflections, and Neil Young would stand in front of him and make notes of where *his* fingers were. Young joined a band on the local circuit called the Esquires, but soon either quit or was fired, depending on which version of the story you choose to believe. He then formed his own rival band, the Squires, with no "e", much to the disgust of his ex-bandmates. In July 1963, five months after they formed, the  Squires released their first record, "Aurora" backed with "The Sultan", on a tiny local label. Both tracks were very obviously influenced by the Shadows: [Excerpt: The Squires, "Aurora"] The Squires were a mostly-instrumental band for the first year or so they were together, and then the Beatles hit North America, and suddenly people didn't want to hear surf instrumentals and Shadows covers any more, they only wanted to hear songs that sounded a bit like the Beatles. The Squires started to work up the appropriate repertoire -- two songs that have been mentioned as in their set at this point are the Beatles album track "It Won't Be Long", and "Money" which the Beatles had also covered -- but they didn't have a singer, being an instrumental group. They could get in a singer, of course, but that would mean splitting the money with another person. So instead, the guitarist, who had never had any intention of becoming a singer, was more or less volunteered for the role. Over the next eighteen months or so the group's repertoire moved from being largely instrumental to largely vocal, and the group also seem to have shuttled around a bit between two different cities -- Winnipeg and Fort William, staying in one for a while and then moving back to the other. They travelled between the two in Young's car, a Buick Roadmaster hearse. In Winnipeg, Young first met up with a singer named Joni Anderson, who was soon to get married to Chuck Mitchell and would become better known by her married name. The two struck up a friendship, though by all accounts never a particularly close one -- they were too similar in too many ways; as Mitchell later said “Neil and I have a lot in common: Canadian; Scorpios; polio in the same epidemic, struck the same parts of our body; and we both have a black sense of humor". They were both also idiosyncratic artists who never fit very well into boxes. In Fort William the Squires made a few more records, this time vocal tracks like "I'll Love You Forever": [Excerpt: The Squires, "I'll Love You Forever"] It was also in Fort William that Young first encountered two acts that would make a huge impression on him. One was a group called The Thorns, consisting of Tim Rose, Jake Holmes, and Rich Husson. The Thorns showed Young that there was interesting stuff being done on the fringes of the folk music scene. He later said "One of my favourites was “Oh Susannah”—they did this arrangement that was bizarre. It was in a minor key, which completely changed everything—and it was rock and roll. So that idea spawned arrangements of all these other songs for me. I did minor versions of them all. We got into it. That was a certain Squires stage that never got recorded. Wish there were tapes of those shows. We used to do all this stuff, a whole kinda music—folk-rock. We took famous old folk songs like “Clementine,” “She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain,” “Tom Dooley,” and we did them all in minor keys based on the Tim Rose arrangement of “Oh Susannah.” There are no recordings of the Thorns in existence that I know of, but presumably that arrangement that Young is talking about is the version that Rose also later did with the Big 3, which we've heard in a few other episodes: [Excerpt: The Big 3, "The Banjo Song"] The other big influence was, of course, Steve Stills, and the two men quickly found themselves influencing each other deeply. Stills realised that he could bring more rock and roll to his folk-music sound, saying that what amazed him was the way the Squires could go from "Cottonfields" (the Lead Belly song) to "Farmer John", the R&B song by Don and Dewey that was becoming a garage-rock staple. Young in turn was inspired to start thinking about maybe going more in the direction of folk music. The Squires even renamed themselves the High-Flying Birds, after the song that Stills had recorded with the Au Go Go Singers. After The Company's tour of Canada, Stills moved back to New York for a while. He now wanted to move in a folk-rock direction, and for a while he tried to persuade his friend John Sebastian to let him play bass in his new band, but when the Lovin' Spoonful decided against having him in the band, he decided to move West to San Francisco, where he'd heard there was a new music scene forming. He enjoyed a lot of the bands he saw there, and in particular he was impressed by the singer of a band called the Great Society: [Excerpt: The Great Society, "Somebody to Love"] He was much less impressed with the rest of her band, and seriously considered going up to her and asking if she wanted to work with some *real* musicians instead of the unimpressive ones she was working with, but didn't get his nerve up. We will, though, be hearing more about Grace Slick in future episodes. Instead, Stills decided to move south to LA, where many of the people he'd known in Greenwich Village were now based. Soon after he got there, he hooked up with two other musicians, a guitarist named Steve Young and a singer, guitarist, and pianist named Van Dyke Parks. Parks had a record contract at MGM -- he'd been signed by Tom Wilson, the same man who had turned Dylan electric, signed Simon and Garfunkel, and produced the first albums by the Mothers of Invention. With Wilson, Parks put out a couple of singles in 1966, "Come to the Sunshine": [Excerpt: The Van Dyke Parks, "Come to the Sunshine"] And "Number Nine", a reworking of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony: [Excerpt: The Van Dyke Parks, "Number Nine"]Parks, Stills, and Steve Young became The Van Dyke Parks Band, though they didn't play together for very long, with their most successful performance being as the support act for the Lovin' Spoonful for a show in Arizona. But they did have a lasting resonance -- when Van Dyke Parks finally got the chance to record his first solo album, he opened it with Steve Young singing the old folk song "Black Jack Davy", filtered to sound like an old tape: [Excerpt: Steve Young, "Black Jack Davy"] And then it goes into a song written for Parks by Randy Newman, but consisting of Newman's ideas about Parks' life and what he knew about him, including that he had been third guitar in the Van Dyke Parks Band: [Excerpt: Van Dyke Parks, "Vine Street"] Parks and Stills also wrote a few songs together, with one of their collaborations, "Hello, I've Returned", later being demoed by Stills for Buffalo Springfield: [Excerpt: Steve Stills, "Hello, I've Returned"] After the Van Dyke Parks Band fell apart, Parks went on to many things, including a brief stint on keyboards in the Mothers of Invention, and we'll be talking more about him next episode. Stills formed a duo called the Buffalo Fish, with his friend Ron Long. That soon became an occasional trio when Stills met up again with his old Greenwich Village friend Peter Tork, who joined the group on the piano. But then Stills auditioned for the Monkees and was turned down because he had bad teeth -- or at least that's how most people told the story. Stills has later claimed that while he turned up for the Monkees auditions, it wasn't to audition, it was to try to pitch them songs, which seems implausible on the face of it. According to Stills, he was offered the job and turned it down because he'd never wanted it. But whatever happened, Stills suggested they might want his friend Peter, who looked just like him apart from having better teeth, and Peter Tork got the job. But what Stills really wanted to do was to form a proper band. He'd had the itch to do it ever since seeing the Squires, and he decided he should ask Neil Young to join. There was only one problem -- when he phoned Young, the phone was answered by Young's mother, who told Stills that Neil had moved out to become a folk singer, and she didn't know where he was. But then Stills heard from his old friend Richie Furay. Furay was still in Greenwich Village, and had decided to write to Stills. He didn't know where Stills was, other than that he was in California somewhere, so he'd written to Stills' father in El Salvador. The letter had been returned, because the postage had been short by one cent, so Furay had resent it with the correct postage. Stills' father had then forwarded the letter to the place Stills had been staying in San Francisco, which had in turn forwarded it on to Stills in LA. Furay's letter mentioned this new folk singer who had been on the scene for a while and then disappeared again, Neil Young, who had said he knew Stills, and had been writing some great songs, one of which Furay had added to his own set. Stills got in touch with Furay and told him about this great band he was forming in LA, which he wanted Furay to join. Furay was in, and travelled from New York to LA, only to be told that at this point there were no other members of this great band, but they'd definitely find some soon. They got a publishing deal with Columbia/Screen Gems, which gave them enough money to not starve, but what they really needed was to find some other musicians. They did, when driving down Hollywood Boulevard on April the sixth, 1966. There, stuck in traffic going the other way, they saw a hearse... After Steve Stills had left Fort William, so had Neil Young. He hadn't initially intended to -- the High-Flying Birds still had a regular gig, but Young and some of his friends had gone away for a few days on a road trip in his hearse. But unfortunately the transmission on the hearse had died, and Young and his friends had been stranded. Many years later, he would write a eulogy to the hearse, which he and Stills would record together: [Excerpt: The Stills-Young Band, "Long May You Run"] Young and his friends had all hitch-hiked in different directions -- Young had ended up in Toronto, where his dad lived, and had stayed with his dad for a while. The rest of his band had eventually followed him there, but Young found the Toronto music scene not to his taste -- the folk and rock scenes there were very insular and didn't mingle with each other, and the group eventually split up. Young even took on a day job for a while, for the only time in his life, though he soon quit. Young started basically commuting between Toronto and New York, a distance of several hundred miles, going to Greenwich Village for a while before ending up back in Toronto, and ping-ponging between the two. In New York, he met up with Richie Furay, and also had a disastrous audition for Elektra Records as a solo artist. One of the songs he sang in the audition was "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing", the song which Furay liked so much he started performing it himself. Young doesn't normally explain his songs, but as this was one of the first he ever wrote, he talked about it in interviews in the early years, before he decided to be less voluble about his art. The song was apparently about the sense of youthful hope being crushed. The instigation for it was Young seeing his girlfriend with another man, but the central image, of Clancy not singing, came from Young's schooldays. The Clancy in question was someone Young liked as one of the other weird kids at school. He was disabled, like Young, though with MS rather than polio, and he would sing to himself in the hallways at school. Sadly, of course, the other kids would mock and bully him for that, and eventually he ended up stopping. Young said about it "After awhile, he got so self-conscious he couldn't do his thing any more. When someone who is as beautiful as that and as different as that is actually killed by his fellow man—you know what I mean—like taken and sorta chopped down—all the other things are nothing compared to this." [Excerpt: Neil Young, "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing (Elektra demo)"] One thing I should say for anyone who listens to the Mixcloud for this episode, that song, which will be appearing in a couple of different versions, has one use of a term for Romani people that some (though not all) consider a slur. It's not in the excerpts I'll be using in this episode, but will be in the full versions on the Mixcloud. Sadly that word turns up time and again in songs of this era... When he wasn't in New York, Young was living in Toronto in a communal apartment owned by a folk singer named Vicki Taylor, where many of the Toronto folk scene would stay. Young started listening a lot to Taylor's Bert Jansch albums, which were his first real exposure to the British folk-baroque style of guitar fingerpicking, as opposed to the American Travis-picking style, and Young would soon start to incorporate that style into his own playing: [Excerpt: Bert Jansch, "Angie"] Another guitar influence on Young at this point was another of the temporary tenants of Taylor's flat, John Kay, who would later go on to be one of the founding members of Steppenwolf. Young credited Kay with having a funky rhythm guitar style that Young incorporated into his own. While he was in Toronto, he started getting occasional gigs in Detroit, which is "only" a couple of hundred miles away, set up by Joni and Chuck Mitchell, both of whom also sometimes stayed at Taylor's. And it was in Detroit that Neil Young became, albeit very briefly, a Motown artist. The Mynah Birds were a band in Toronto that had at one point included various future members of Steppenwolf, and they were unusual for the time in that they were a white band with a Black lead singer, Ricky Matthews. They also had a rich manager, John Craig Eaton, the heir to the Eaton's department store fortune, who basically gave them whatever money they wanted -- they used to go to his office and tell him they needed seven hundred dollars for lunch, and he'd hand it to them. They were looking for a new guitarist when Bruce Palmer, their bass player, bumped into Neil Young carrying an amp and asked if he was interested in joining. He was. The Mynah Birds quickly became one of the best bands in Toronto, and Young and Matthews became close, both as friends and as a performance team. People who saw them live would talk about things like a song called “Hideaway”, written by Young and Matthews, which had a spot in the middle where Young would start playing a harmonica solo, throw the harmonica up in the air mid-solo, Matthews would catch it, and he would then finish the solo. They got signed to Motown, who were at this point looking to branch out into the white guitar-group market, and they were put through the Motown star-making machine. They recorded an entire album, which remains unreleased, but they did release a single, "It's My Time": [Excerpt: The Mynah Birds, "It's My Time"] Or at least, they released a handful of promo copies. The single was pulled from release after Ricky Matthews got arrested. It turned out his birth name wasn't Ricky Matthews, but James Johnson, and that he wasn't from Toronto as he'd told everyone, but from Buffalo, New York. He'd fled to Canada after going AWOL from the Navy, not wanting to be sent to Vietnam, and he was arrested and jailed for desertion. After getting out of jail, he would start performing under yet another name, and as Rick James would have a string of hits in the seventies and eighties: [Excerpt: Rick James, "Super Freak"] Most of the rest of the group continued gigging as The Mynah Birds, but Young and Palmer had other plans. They sold the expensive equipment Eaton had bought the group, and Young bought a new hearse, which he named Mort 2 – Mort had been his first hearse. And according to one of the band's friends in Toronto, the crucial change in their lives came when Neil Young heard a song on a jukebox: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "California Dreamin'"] Young apparently heard "California Dreamin'" and immediately said "Let's go to California and become rock stars". Now, Young later said of this anecdote that "That sounds like a Canadian story to me. That sounds too real to be true", and he may well be right. Certainly the actual wording of the story is likely incorrect -- people weren't talking about "rock stars" in 1966. Google's Ngram viewer has the first use of the phrase in print being in 1969, and the phrase didn't come into widespread usage until surprisingly late -- even granting that phrases enter slang before they make it to print, it still seems implausible. But even though the precise wording might not be correct, something along those lines definitely seems to have happened, albeit possibly less dramatically. Young's friend Comrie Smith independently said that Young told him “Well, Comrie, I can hear the Mamas and the Papas singing ‘All the leaves are brown, and the skies are gray …' I'm gonna go down to the States and really make it. I'm on my way. Today North Toronto, tomorrow the world!” Young and Palmer loaded up Mort 2 with a bunch of their friends and headed towards California. On the way, they fell out with most of the friends, who parted from them, and Young had an episode which in retrospect may have been his first epileptic seizure. They decided when they got to California that they were going to look for Steve Stills, as they'd heard he was in LA and neither of them knew anyone else in the state. But after several days of going round the Sunset Strip clubs asking if anyone knew Steve Stills, and sleeping in the hearse as they couldn't afford anywhere else, they were getting fed up and about to head off to San Francisco, as they'd heard there was a good music scene there, too. They were going to leave that day, and they were stuck in traffic on Sunset Boulevard, about to head off, when Stills and Furay came driving in the other direction. Furay happened to turn his head, to brush away a fly, and saw a hearse with Ontario license plates. He and Stills both remembered that Young drove a hearse, and so they assumed it must be him. They started honking at the hearse, then did a U-turn. They got Young's attention, and they all pulled into the parking lot at Ben Frank's, the Sunset Strip restaurant that attracted such a hip crowd the Monkees' producers had asked for "Ben Frank's types" in their audition advert. Young introduced Stills and Furay to Palmer, and now there *was* a group -- three singing, songwriting, guitarists and a bass player. Now all they needed was a drummer. There were two drummers seriously considered for the role. One of them, Billy Mundi, was technically the better player, but Young didn't like playing with him as much -- and Mundi also had a better offer, to join the Mothers of Invention as their second drummer -- before they'd recorded their first album, they'd had two drummers for a few months, but Denny Bruce, their second drummer, had become ill with glandular fever and they'd reverted to having Jimmy Carl Black play solo. Now they were looking for someone else, and Mundi took that role. The other drummer, who Young preferred anyway, was another Canadian, Dewey Martin. Martin was a couple of years older than the rest of the group, and by far the most experienced. He'd moved from Canada to Nashville in his teens, and according to Martin he had been taken under the wing of Hank Garland, the great session guitarist most famous for "Sugarfoot Rag": [Excerpt: Hank Garland, "Sugarfoot Rag"] We heard Garland playing with Elvis and others in some of the episodes around 1960, and by many reckonings he was the best session guitarist in Nashville, but in 1961 he had a car accident that left him comatose, and even though he recovered from the coma and lived another thirty-three years, he never returned to recording. According to Martin, though, Garland would still sometimes play jazz clubs around Nashville after the accident, and one day Martin walked into a club and saw him playing. The drummer he was playing with got up and took a break, taking his sticks with him, so Martin got up on stage and started playing, using two combs instead of sticks. Garland was impressed, and told Martin that Faron Young needed a drummer, and he could get him the gig. At the time Young was one of the biggest stars in country music. That year, 1961, he had three country top ten hits, including a number one with his version of Willie Nelson's "Hello Walls", produced by Ken Nelson: [Excerpt: Faron Young, "Hello Walls"] Martin joined Faron Young's band for a while, and also ended up playing short stints in the touring bands of various other Nashville-based country and rock stars, including Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, and the Everly Brothers, before heading to LA for a while. Then Mel Taylor of the Ventures hooked him up with some musicians in the Pacific Northwest scene, and Martin started playing there under the name Sir Raleigh and the Coupons with various musicians. After a while he travelled back to LA where he got some members of the LA group Sons of Adam to become a permanent lineup of Coupons, and they recorded several singles with Martin singing lead, including the Tommy Boyce and Steve Venet song "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day", later recorded by the Monkees: [Excerpt: Sir Raleigh and the Coupons, "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day"] He then played with the Standells, before joining the Modern Folk Quartet for a short while, as they were transitioning from their folk sound to a folk-rock style. He was only with them for a short while, and it's difficult to get precise details -- almost everyone involved with Buffalo Springfield has conflicting stories about their own careers with timelines that don't make sense, which is understandable given that people were talking about events decades later and memory plays tricks. "Fast" Eddie Hoh had joined the Modern Folk Quartet on drums in late 1965, at which point they became the Modern Folk Quintet, and nothing I've read about that group talks about Hoh ever actually leaving, but apparently Martin joined them in February 1966, which might mean he's on their single "Night-Time Girl", co-written by Al Kooper and produced and arranged by Jack Nitzsche: [Excerpt: The Modern Folk Quintet, "Night-Time Girl"] After that, Martin was taken on by the Dillards, a bluegrass band who are now possibly most famous for having popularised the Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith song "Duellin' Banjos", which they recorded on their first album and played on the Andy Griffith Show a few years before it was used in Deliverance: [Excerpt: The Dillards, "Duellin' Banjos"] The Dillards had decided to go in a country-rock direction -- and Doug Dillard would later join the Byrds and make records with Gene Clark -- but they were hesitant about it, and after a brief period with Martin in the band they decided to go back to their drummerless lineup. To soften the blow, they told him about another band that was looking for a drummer -- their manager, Jim Dickson, who was also the Byrds' manager, knew Stills and his bandmates. Dewey Martin was in the group. The group still needed a name though. They eventually took their name from a brand of steam roller, after seeing one on the streets when some roadwork was being done. Everyone involved disagrees as to who came up with the name. Steve Stills at one point said it was a group decision after Neil Young and the group's manager Frazier Mohawk stole the nameplate off the steamroller, and later Stills said that Richey Furay had suggested the name while they were walking down the street, Dewey Martin said it was his idea, Neil Young said that he, Steve Sills, and Van Dyke Parks had been walking down the street and either Young or Stills had seen the nameplate and suggested the name, and Van Dyke Parks says that *he* saw the nameplate and suggested it to Dewey Martin: [Excerpt: Steve Stills and Van Dyke Parks on the name] For what it's worth, I tend to believe Van Dyke Parks in most instances -- he's an honest man, and he seems to have a better memory of the sixties than many of his friends who led more chemically interesting lives. Whoever came up with it, the name worked -- as Stills later put it "We thought it was pretty apt, because Neil Young is from Manitoba which is buffalo country, and  Richie Furay was from Springfield, Ohio -- and I'm the field!" It almost certainly also helped that the word "buffalo" had been in the name of Stills' previous group, Buffalo Fish. On the eleventh of April, 1966, Buffalo Springfield played their first gig, at the Troubadour, using equipment borrowed from the Dillards. Chris Hillman of the Byrds was in the audience and was impressed. He got the group a support slot on a show the Byrds and the Dillards were doing a few days later in San Bernardino. That show was compered by a Merseyside-born British DJ, John Ravenscroft, who had managed to become moderately successful in US radio by playing up his regional accent so he sounded more like the Beatles. He would soon return to the UK, and start broadcasting under the name John Peel. Hillman also got them a week-long slot at the Whisky A-Go-Go, and a bidding war started between record labels to sign the band. Dunhill offered five thousand dollars, Warners counted with ten thousand, and then Atlantic offered twelve thousand. Atlantic were *just* starting to get interested in signing white guitar groups -- Jerry Wexler never liked that kind of music, always preferring to stick with soul and R&B, but Ahmet Ertegun could see which way things were going. Atlantic had only ever signed two other white acts before -- Neil Young's old favourite Bobby Darin, who had since left the label, and Sonny and Cher. And Sonny and Cher's management and production team, Brian Stone and Charlie Greene, were also very interested in the group, who even before they had made a record had quickly become the hottest band on the circuit, even playing the Hollywood Bowl as the Rolling Stones' support act. Buffalo Springfield already had managers -- Frazier Mohawk and Richard Davis, the lighting man at the Troubadour (who was sometimes also referred to as Dickie Davis, but I'll use his full name so as not to cause unnecessary confusion in British people who remember the sports TV presenter of the same name), who Mohawk had enlisted to help him. But Stone and Greene weren't going to let a thing like that stop them. According to anonymous reports quoted without attribution in David Roberts' biography of Stills -- so take this with as many grains of salt as you want -- Stone and Greene took Mohawk for a ride around LA in a limo, just the three of them, a gun, and a used hotdog napkin. At the end of the ride, the hotdog napkin had Mohawk's scrawled signature, signing the group over to Stone and Greene. Davis stayed on, but was demoted to just doing their lights. The way things ended up, the group signed to Stone and Greene's production company, who then leased their masters to Atlantic's Atco subsidiary. A publishing company was also set up for the group's songs -- owned thirty-seven point five percent by Atlantic, thirty-seven point five percent by Stone and Greene, and the other twenty-five percent split six ways between the group and Davis, who they considered their sixth member. Almost immediately, Charlie Greene started playing Stills and Young off against each other, trying a divide-and-conquer strategy on the group. This was quite easy, as both men saw themselves as natural leaders, though Stills was regarded by everyone as the senior partner -- the back cover of their first album would contain the line "Steve is the leader but we all are". Stills and Young were the two stars of the group as far as the audience were concerned -- though most musicians who heard them play live say that the band's real strength was in its rhythm section, with people comparing Palmer's playing to that of James Jamerson. But Stills and Young would get into guitar battles on stage, one-upping each other, in ways that turned the tension between them in creative directions. Other clashes, though were more petty -- both men had very domineering mothers, who would actually call the group's management to complain about press coverage if their son was given less space than the other one. The group were also not sure about Young's voice -- to the extent that Stills was known to jokingly apologise to the audience before Young took a lead vocal -- and so while the song chosen as the group's first A-side was Young's "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing", Furay was chosen to sing it, rather than Young: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing"] On the group's first session, though, both Stills and Young realised that their producers didn't really have a clue -- the group had built up arrangements that had a complex interplay of instruments and vocals, but the producers insisted on cutting things very straightforwardly, with a basic backing track and then the vocals. They also thought that the song was too long so the group should play faster. Stills and Young quickly decided that they were going to have to start producing their own material, though Stone and Greene would remain the producers for the first album. There was another bone of contention though, because in the session the initial plan had been for Stills' song "Go and Say Goodbye" to be the A-side with Young's song as the B-side. It was flipped, and nobody seems quite sure why -- it's certainly the case that, whatever the merits of the two tracks as songs, Stills' song was the one that would have been more likely to become a hit. "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" was a flop, but it did get some local airplay. The next single, "Burned", was a Young song as well, and this time did have Young taking the lead, though in a song dominated by harmonies: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Burned"] Over the summer, though, something had happened that would affect everything for the group -- Neil Young had started to have epileptic seizures. At first these were undiagnosed episodes, but soon they became almost routine events, and they would often happen on stage, particularly at moments of great stress or excitement. Several other members of the group became convinced -- entirely wrongly -- that Young was faking these seizures in order to get women to pay attention to him. They thought that what he wanted was for women to comfort him and mop his brow, and that collapsing would get him that. The seizures became so common that Richard Davis, the group's lighting tech, learned to recognise the signs of a seizure before it happened. As soon as it looked like Young was about to collapse the lights would turn on, someone would get ready to carry him off stage, and Richie Furay would know to grab Young's guitar before he fell so that the guitar wouldn't get damaged. Because they weren't properly grounded and Furay had an electric guitar of his own, he'd get a shock every time. Young would later claim that during some of the seizures, he would hallucinate that he was another person, in another world, living another life that seemed to have its own continuity -- people in the other world would recognise him and talk to him as if he'd been away for a while -- and then when he recovered he would have to quickly rebuild his identity, as if temporarily amnesiac, and during those times he would find things like the concept of lying painful. The group's first album came out in December, and they were very, very, unhappy with it. They thought the material was great, but they also thought that the production was terrible. Stone and Greene's insistence that they record the backing tracks first and then overdub vocals, rather than singing live with the instruments, meant that the recordings, according to Stills and Young in particular, didn't capture the sound of the group's live performance, and sounded sterile. Stills and Young thought they'd fixed some of that in the mono mix, which they spent ten days on, but then Stone and Greene did the stereo mix without consulting the band, in less than two days, and the album was released at precisely the time that stereo was starting to overtake mono in the album market. I'm using the mono mixes in this podcast, but for decades the only versions available were the stereo ones, which Stills and Young both loathed. Ahmet Ertegun also apparently thought that the demo versions of the songs -- some of which were eventually released on a box set in 2001 -- were much better than the finished studio recordings. The album was not a success on release, but it did contain the first song any of the group had written to chart. Soon after its release, Van Dyke Parks' friend Lenny Waronker was producing a single by a group who had originally been led by Sly Stone and had been called Sly and the Mojo Men. By this time Stone was no longer involved in the group, and they were making music in a very different style from the music their former leader would later become known for. Parks was brought in to arrange a baroque-pop version of Stills' album track "Sit Down I Think I Love You" for the group, and it became their only top forty hit, reaching number thirty-six: [Excerpt: The Mojo Men, "Sit Down I Think I Love You"] It was shortly after the first Buffalo Springfield album was released, though, that Steve Stills wrote what would turn out to be *his* group's only top forty single. The song had its roots in both LA and San Francisco. The LA roots were more obvious -- the song was written about a specific experience Stills had had. He had been driving to Sunset Strip from Laurel Canyon on November the twelfth 1966, and he had seen a mass of young people and police in riot gear, and he had immediately turned round, partly because he didn't want to get involved in what looked to be a riot, and partly because he'd been inspired -- he had the idea for a lyric, which he pretty much finished in the car even before he got home: [Excerpt: The Buffalo Springfield, "For What it's Worth"] The riots he saw were what became known later as the Riot on Sunset Strip. This was a minor skirmish between the police and young people of LA -- there had been complaints that young people had been spilling out of the nightclubs on Sunset Strip into the street, causing traffic problems, and as a result the city council had introduced various heavy-handed restrictions, including a ten PM curfew for all young people in the area, removing the permits that many clubs had which allowed people under twenty-one to be present, forcing the Whisky A-Go-Go to change its name just to "the Whisk", and forcing a club named Pandora's Box, which was considered the epicentre of the problem, to close altogether. Flyers had been passed around calling for a "funeral" for Pandora's Box -- a peaceful gathering at which people could say goodbye to a favourite nightspot, and a thousand people had turned up. The police also turned up, and in the heavy-handed way common among law enforcement, they managed to provoke a peaceful party and turn it into a riot. This would not normally be an event that would be remembered even a year later, let alone nearly sixty years later, but Sunset Strip was the centre of the American rock music world in the period, and of the broader youth entertainment field. Among those arrested at the riot, for example, were Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda, neither of whom were huge stars at the time, but who were making cheap B-movies with Roger Corman for American International Pictures. Among the cheap exploitation films that American International Pictures made around this time was one based on the riots, though neither Nicholson, Fonda, or Corman were involved. Riot on Sunset Strip was released in cinemas only four months after the riots, and it had a theme song by Dewey Martin's old colleagues The Standells, which is now regarded as a classic of garage rock: [Excerpt: The Standells, "Riot on Sunset Strip"] The riots got referenced in a lot of other songs, as well. The Mothers of Invention's second album, Absolutely Free, contains the song "Plastic People" which includes this section: [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Plastic People"] And the Monkees track "Daily Nightly", written by Michael Nesmith, was always claimed by Nesmith to be an impressionistic portrait of the riots, though the psychedelic lyrics sound to me more like they're talking about drug use and street-walking sex workers than anything to do with the riots: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daily Nightly"] But the song about the riots that would have the most lasting effect on popular culture was the one that Steve Stills wrote that night. Although how much he actually wrote, at least of the music, is somewhat open to question. Earlier that month, Buffalo Springfield had spent some time in San Francisco. They hadn't enjoyed the experience -- as an LA band, they were thought of as a bunch of Hollywood posers by most of the San Francisco scene, with the exception of one band, Moby Grape -- a band who, like them had three guitarist/singer/songwriters, and with whom they got on very well. Indeed, they got on rather better with Moby Grape than they were getting on with each other at this point, because Young and Stills would regularly get into arguments, and every time their argument seemed to be settling down, Dewey Martin would manage to say the wrong thing and get Stills riled up again -- Martin was doing a lot of speed at this point and unable to stop talking, even when it would have been politic to do so. There was even some talk while they were in San Francisco of the bands doing a trade -- Young and Pete Lewis of Moby Grape swapping places -- though that came to nothing. But Stills, according to both Richard Davis and Pete Lewis, had been truly impressed by two Moby Grape songs. One of them was a song called "On the Other Side", which Moby Grape never recorded, but which apparently had a chorus that went "Stop, can't you hear the music ringing in your ear, right before you go, telling you the way is clear," with the group all pausing after the word "Stop". The other was a song called "Murder in my Heart for the Judge": [Excerpt: Moby Grape, "Murder in my Heart for the Judge"] The song Stills wrote had a huge amount of melodic influence from that song, and quite a bit from “On the Other Side”, though he apparently didn't notice until after the record came out, at which point he apologised to Moby Grape. Stills wasn't massively impressed with the song he'd written, and went to Stone and Greene's office to play it for them, saying "I'll play it, for what it's worth". They liked the song and booked a studio to get the song recorded and rush-released, though according to Neil Young neither Stone nor Greene were actually present at the session, and the song was recorded on December the fifth, while some outbursts of rioting were still happening, and released on December the twenty-third. [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "For What it's Worth"] The song didn't have a title when they recorded it, or so Stills thought, but when he mentioned this to Greene and Stone afterwards, they said "Of course it does. You said, 'I'm going to play the song, 'For What It's Worth'" So that became the title, although Ahmet Ertegun didn't like the idea of releasing a single with a title that wasn't in the lyric, so the early pressings of the single had "Stop, Hey, What's That Sound?" in brackets after the title. The song became a big hit, and there's a story told by David Crosby that doesn't line up correctly, but which might shed some light on why. According to Crosby, "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" got its first airplay because Crosby had played members of Buffalo Springfield a tape he'd been given of the unreleased Beatles track "A Day in the Life", and they'd told their gangster manager-producers about it. Those manager-producers had then hired a sex worker to have sex with Crosby and steal the tape, which they'd then traded to a radio station in return for airplay. That timeline doesn't work, unless the sex worker involved was also a time traveller,  because "A Day in the Life" wasn't even recorded until January 1967 while "Clancy" came out in August 1966, and there'd been two other singles released between then and January 1967. But it *might* be the case that that's what happened with "For What It's Worth", which was released in the last week of December 1966, and didn't really start to do well on the charts for a couple of months. Right after recording the song, the group went to play a residency in New York, of which Ahmet Ertegun said “When they performed there, man, there was no band I ever heard that had the electricity of that group. That was the most exciting group I've ever seen, bar none. It was just mind-boggling.” During that residency they were joined on stage at various points by Mitch Ryder, Odetta, and Otis Redding. While in New York, the group also recorded "Mr. Soul", a song that Young had originally written as a folk song about his experiences with epilepsy, the nature of the soul, and dealing with fame. However, he'd noticed a similarity to "Satisfaction" and decided to lean into it. The track as finally released was heavily overdubbed by Young a few months later, but after it was released he decided he preferred the original take, which by then only existed as a scratchy acetate, which got released on a box set in 2001: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Mr. Soul (original version)"] Everyone has a different story of how the session for that track went -- at least one version of the story has Otis Redding turning up for the session and saying he wanted to record the song himself, as his follow-up to his version of "Satisfaction", but Young being angry at the idea. According to other versions of the story, Greene and Stills got into a physical fight, with Greene having to be given some of the valium Young was taking for his epilepsy to calm him down. "For What it's Worth" was doing well enough on the charts that the album was recalled, and reissued with "For What It's Worth" replacing Stills' song "Baby Don't Scold", but soon disaster struck the band. Bruce Palmer was arrested on drugs charges, and was deported back to Canada just as the song started to rise through the charts. The group needed a new bass player, fast. For a lipsynch appearance on local TV they got Richard Davis to mime the part, and then they got in Ken Forssi, the bass player from Love, for a couple of gigs. They next brought in Ken Koblun, the bass player from the Squires, but he didn't fit in with the rest of the group. The next replacement was Jim Fielder. Fielder was a friend of the group, and knew the material -- he'd subbed for Palmer a few times in 1966 when Palmer had been locked up after less serious busts. And to give some idea of how small a scene the LA scene was, when Buffalo Springfield asked him to become their bass player, he was playing rhythm guitar for the Mothers of Invention, while Billy Mundi was on drums, and had played on their second, as yet unreleased, album, Absolutely Free: [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Call any Vegetable"] And before joining the Mothers, Fielder and Mundi had also played together with Van Dyke Parks, who had served his own short stint as a Mother of Invention already, backing Tim Buckley on Buckley's first album: [Excerpt: Tim Buckley, "Aren't You the Girl?"] And the arrangements on that album were by Jack Nitzsche, who would soon become a very close collaborator with Young. "For What it's Worth" kept rising up the charts. Even though it had been inspired by a very local issue, the lyrics were vague enough that people in other situations could apply it to themselves, and it soon became regarded as an anti-war protest anthem -- something Stills did nothing to discourage, as the band were all opposed to the war. The band were also starting to collaborate with other people. When Stills bought a new house, he couldn't move in to it for a while, and so Peter Tork invited him to stay at his house. The two got on so well that Tork invited Stills to produce the next Monkees album -- only to find that Michael Nesmith had already asked Chip Douglas to do it. The group started work on a new album, provisionally titled "Stampede", but sessions didn't get much further than Stills' song "Bluebird" before trouble arose between Young and Stills. The root of the argument seems to have been around the number of songs each got on the album. With Richie Furay also writing, Young was worried that given the others' attitudes to his songwriting, he might get as few as two songs on the album. And Young and Stills were arguing over which song should be the next single, with Young wanting "Mr. Soul" to be the A-side, while Stills wanted "Bluebird" -- Stills making the reasonable case that they'd released two Neil Young songs as singles and gone nowhere, and then they'd released one of Stills', and it had become a massive hit. "Bluebird" was eventually chosen as the A-side, with "Mr. Soul" as the B-side: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Bluebird"] The "Bluebird" session was another fraught one. Fielder had not yet joined the band, and session player Bobby West subbed on bass. Neil Young had recently started hanging out with Jack Nitzsche, and the two were getting very close and working on music together. Young had impressed Nitzsche not just with his songwriting but with his arrogance -- he'd played Nitzsche his latest song, "Expecting to Fly", and Nitzsche had said halfway through "That's a great song", and Young had shushed him and told him to listen, not interrupt. Nitzsche, who had a monstrous ego himself and was also used to working with people like Phil Spector, the Rolling Stones and Sonny Bono, none of them known for a lack of faith in their own abilities, was impressed. Shortly after that, Stills had asked Nitzsch

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A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 151: “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 22, 2022

We start season four of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs with an extra-long look at "San Francisco" by Scott McKenzie, and at the Monterey Pop Festival, and the careers of the Mamas and the Papas and P.F. Sloan. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on "Up, Up, and Away" by the 5th Dimension. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources As usual, all the songs excerpted in the podcast can be heard in full at Mixcloud. Scott McKenzie's first album is available here. There are many compilations of the Mamas and the Papas' music, but sadly none that are in print in the UK have the original mono mixes. This set is about as good as you're going to find, though, for the stereo versions. Information on the Mamas and the Papas came from Go Where You Wanna Go: The Oral History of The Mamas and the Papas by Matthew Greenwald, California Dreamin': The True Story Of The Mamas and Papas by Michelle Phillips, and Papa John by John Phillips and Jim Jerome. Information on P.F. Sloan came from PF - TRAVELLING BAREFOOT ON A ROCKY ROAD by Stephen McParland and What's Exactly the Matter With Me? by P.F. Sloan and S.E. Feinberg. The film of the Monterey Pop Festival is available on this Criterion Blu-Ray set. Sadly the CD of the performances seems to be deleted. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Welcome to season four of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs. It's good to be back. Before we start this episode, I just want to say one thing. I get a lot of credit at times for the way I don't shy away from dealing with the more unsavoury elements of the people being covered in my podcast -- particularly the more awful men. But as I said very early on, I only cover those aspects of their life when they're relevant to the music, because this is a music podcast and not a true crime podcast. But also I worry that in some cases this might mean I'm giving a false impression of some people. In the case of this episode, one of the central figures is John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. Now, Phillips has posthumously been accused of some truly monstrous acts, the kind of thing that is truly unforgivable, and I believe those accusations. But those acts didn't take place during the time period covered by most of this episode, so I won't be covering them here -- but they're easily googlable if you want to know. I thought it best to get that out of the way at the start, so no-one's either anxiously waiting for the penny to drop or upset that I didn't acknowledge the elephant in the room. Separately, this episode will have some discussion of fatphobia and diet culture, and of a death that is at least in part attributable to those things. Those of you affected by that may want to skip this one or read the transcript. There are also some mentions of drug addiction and alcoholism. Anyway, on with the show. One of the things that causes problems with rock history is the tendency of people to have selective memories, and that's never more true than when it comes to the Summer of Love, summer of 1967. In the mythology that's built up around it, that was a golden time, the greatest time ever, a period of peace and love where everything was possible, and the world looked like it was going to just keep on getting better. But what that means, of course, is that the people remembering it that way do so because it was the best time of their lives. And what happens when the best time of your life is over in one summer? When you have one hit and never have a second, or when your band splits up after only eighteen months, and you have to cope with the reality that your best years are not only behind you, but they weren't even best years, but just best months? What stories would you tell about that time? Would you remember it as the eve of destruction, the last great moment before everything went to hell, or would you remember it as a golden summer, full of people with flowers in their hair? And would either really be true? [Excerpt: Scott McKenzie, "San Francisco"] Other than the city in which they worked, there are a few things that seem to characterise almost all the important figures on the LA music scene in the middle part of the 1960s. They almost all seem to be incredibly ambitious, as one might imagine. There seem to be a huge number of fantasists among them -- people who will not only choose the legend over reality when it suits them, but who will choose the legend over reality even when it doesn't suit them. And they almost all seem to have a story about being turned down in a rude and arrogant manner by Lou Adler, usually more or less the same story. To give an example, I'm going to read out a bit of Ray Manzarek's autobiography here. Now, Manzarek uses a few words that I can't use on this podcast and keep a clean rating, so I'm just going to do slight pauses when I get to them, but I'll leave the words in the transcript for those who aren't offended by them: "Sometimes Jim and Dorothy and I went alone. The three of us tried Dunhill Records. Lou Adler was the head man. He was shrewd and he was hip. He had the Mamas and the Papas and a big single with Barry McGuire's 'Eve of Destruction.' He was flush. We were ushered into his office. He looked cool. He was California casually disheveled and had the look of a stoner, but his eyes were as cold as a shark's. He took the twelve-inch acetate demo from me and we all sat down. He put the disc on his turntable and played each cut…for ten seconds. Ten seconds! You can't tell jack [shit] from ten seconds. At least listen to one of the songs all the way through. I wanted to rage at him. 'How dare you! We're the Doors! This is [fucking] Jim Morrison! He's going to be a [fucking] star! Can't you see that? Can't you see how [fucking] handsome he is? Can't you hear how groovy the music is? Don't you [fucking] get it? Listen to the words, man!' My brain was a boiling, lava-filled Jell-O mold of rage. I wanted to eviscerate that shark. The songs he so casually dismissed were 'Moonlight Drive,' 'Hello, I Love You,' 'Summer's Almost Gone,' 'End of the Night,' 'I Looked at You,' 'Go Insane.' He rejected the whole demo. Ten seconds on each song—maybe twenty seconds on 'Hello, I Love You' (I took that as an omen of potential airplay)—and we were dismissed out of hand. Just like that. He took the demo off the turntable and handed it back to me with an obsequious smile and said, 'Nothing here I can use.' We were shocked. We stood up, the three of us, and Jim, with a wry and knowing smile on his lips, cuttingly and coolly shot back at him, 'That's okay, man. We don't want to be *used*, anyway.'" Now, as you may have gathered from the episode on the Doors, Ray Manzarek was one of those print-the-legend types, and that's true of everyone who tells similar stories about Lou Alder. But... there are a *lot* of people who tell similar stories about Lou Adler. One of those was Phil Sloan. You can get an idea of Sloan's attitude to storytelling from a story he always used to tell. Shortly after he and his family moved to LA from New York, he got a job selling newspapers on a street corner on Hollywood Boulevard, just across from Schwab's Drug Store. One day James Dean drove up in his Porsche and made an unusual request. He wanted to buy every copy of the newspaper that Sloan had -- around a hundred and fifty copies in total. But he only wanted one article, something in the entertainment section. Sloan didn't remember what the article was, but he did remember that one of the headlines was on the final illness of Oliver Hardy, who died shortly afterwards, and thought it might have been something to do with that. Dean was going to just clip that article from every copy he bought, and then he was going to give all the newspapers back to Sloan to sell again, so Sloan ended up making a lot of extra money that day. There is one rather big problem with that story. Oliver Hardy died in August 1957, just after the Sloan family moved to LA. But James Dean died in September 1955, two years earlier. Sloan admitted that, and said he couldn't explain it, but he was insistent. He sold a hundred and fifty newspapers to James Dean two years after Dean's death. When not selling newspapers to dead celebrities, Sloan went to Fairfax High School, and developed an interest in music which was mostly oriented around the kind of white pop vocal groups that were popular at the time, groups like the Kingston Trio, the Four Lads, and the Four Aces. But the record that made Sloan decide he wanted to make music himself was "Just Goofed" by the Teen Queens: [Excerpt: The Teen Queens, "Just Goofed"] In 1959, when he was fourteen, he saw an advert for an open audition with Aladdin Records, a label he liked because of Thurston Harris. He went along to the audition, and was successful. His first single, released as by Flip Sloan -- Flip was a nickname, a corruption of "Philip" -- was produced by Bumps Blackwell and featured several of the musicians who played with Sam Cooke, plus Larry Knechtel on piano and Mike Deasey on guitar, but Aladdin shut down shortly after releasing it, and it may not even have had a general release, just promo copies. I've not been able to find a copy online anywhere. After that, he tried Arwin Records, the label that Jan and Arnie recorded for, which was owned by Marty Melcher (Doris Day's husband and Terry Melcher's stepfather). Melcher signed him, and put out a single, "She's My Girl", on Mart Records, a subsidiary of Arwin, on which Sloan was backed by a group of session players including Sandy Nelson and Bruce Johnston: [Excerpt: Philip Sloan, "She's My Girl"] That record didn't have any success, and Sloan was soon dropped by Mart Records. He went on to sign with Blue Bird Records, which was as far as can be ascertained essentially a scam organisation that would record demos for songwriters, but tell the performers that they were making a real record, so that they would record it for the royalties they would never get, rather than for a decent fee as a professional demo singer would get. But Steve Venet -- the brother of Nik Venet, and occasional songwriting collaborator with Tommy Boyce -- happened to come to Blue Bird one day, and hear one of Sloan's original songs. He thought Sloan would make a good songwriter, and took him to see Lou Adler at Columbia-Screen Gems music publishing. This was shortly after the merger between Columbia-Screen Gems and Aldon Music, and Adler was at this point the West Coast head of operations, subservient to Don Kirshner and Al Nevins, but largely left to do what he wanted. The way Sloan always told the story, Venet tried to get Adler to sign Sloan, but Adler said his songs stunk and had no commercial potential. But Sloan persisted in trying to get a contract there, and eventually Al Nevins happened to be in the office and overruled Adler, much to Adler's disgust. Sloan was signed to Columbia-Screen Gems as a songwriter, though he wasn't put on a salary like the Brill Building songwriters, just told that he could bring in songs and they would publish them. Shortly after this, Adler suggested to Sloan that he might want to form a writing team with another songwriter, Steve Barri, who had had a similar non-career non-trajectory, but was very slightly further ahead in his career, having done some work with Carol Connors, the former lead singer of the Teddy Bears. Barri had co-written a couple of flop singles for Connors, before the two of them had formed a vocal group, the Storytellers, with Connors' sister. The Storytellers had released a single, "When Two People (Are in Love)" , which was put out on a local independent label and which Adler had licensed to be released on Dimension Records, the label associated with Aldon Music: [Excerpt: The Storytellers "When Two People (Are in Love)"] That record didn't sell, but it was enough to get Barri into the Columbia-Screen Gems circle, and Adler set him and Sloan up as a songwriting team -- although the way Sloan told it, it wasn't so much a songwriting team as Sloan writing songs while Barri was also there. Sloan would later claim "it was mostly a collaboration of spirit, and it seemed that I was writing most of the music and the lyric, but it couldn't possibly have ever happened unless both of us were present at the same time". One suspects that Barri might have a different recollection of how it went... Sloan and Barri's first collaboration was a song that Sloan had half-written before they met, called "Kick That Little Foot Sally Ann", which was recorded by a West Coast Chubby Checker knockoff who went under the name Round Robin, and who had his own dance craze, the Slauson, which was much less successful than the Twist: [Excerpt: Round Robin, "Kick that Little Foot Sally Ann"] That track was produced and arranged by Jack Nitzsche, and Nitzsche asked Sloan to be one of the rhythm guitarists on the track, apparently liking Sloan's feel. Sloan would end up playing rhythm guitar or singing backing vocals on many of the records made of songs he and Barri wrote together. "Kick That Little Foot Sally Ann" only made number sixty-one nationally, but it was a regional hit, and it meant that Sloan and Barri soon became what Sloan later described as "the Goffin and King of the West Coast follow-ups." According to Sloan "We'd be given a list on Monday morning by Lou Adler with thirty names on it of the groups who needed follow-ups to their hit." They'd then write the songs to order, and they started to specialise in dance craze songs. For example, when the Swim looked like it might be the next big dance, they wrote "Swim Swim Swim", "She Only Wants to Swim", "Let's Swim Baby", "Big Boss Swimmer", "Swim Party" and "My Swimmin' Girl" (the last a collaboration with Jan Berry and Roger Christian). These songs were exactly as good as they needed to be, in order to provide album filler for mid-tier artists, and while Sloan and Barri weren't writing any massive hits, they were doing very well as mid-tier writers. According to Sloan's biographer Stephen McParland, there was a three-year period in the mid-sixties where at least one song written or co-written by Sloan was on the national charts at any given time. Most of these songs weren't for Columbia-Screen Gems though. In early 1964 Lou Adler had a falling out with Don Kirshner, and decided to start up his own company, Dunhill, which was equal parts production company, music publishers, and management -- doing for West Coast pop singers what Motown was doing for Detroit soul singers, and putting everything into one basket. Dunhill's early clients included Jan and Dean and the rockabilly singer Johnny Rivers, and Dunhill also signed Sloan and Barri as songwriters. Because of this connection, Sloan and Barri soon became an important part of Jan and Dean's hit-making process. The Matadors, the vocal group that had provided most of the backing vocals on the duo's hits, had started asking for more money than Jan Berry was willing to pay, and Jan and Dean couldn't do the vocals themselves -- as Bones Howe put it "As a singer, Dean is a wonderful graphic artist" -- and so Sloan and Barri stepped in, doing session vocals without payment in the hope that Jan and Dean would record a few of their songs. For example, on the big hit "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena", Dean Torrence is not present at all on the record -- Jan Berry sings the lead vocal, with Sloan doubling him for much of it, Sloan sings "Dean"'s falsetto, with the engineer Bones Howe helping out, and the rest of the backing vocals are sung by Sloan, Barri, and Howe: [Excerpt: Jan and Dean, "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena"] For these recordings, Sloan and Barri were known as The Fantastic Baggys, a name which came from the Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Oldham and Mick Jagger, when the two were visiting California. Oldham had been commenting on baggys, the kind of shorts worn by surfers, and had asked Jagger what he thought of The Baggys as a group name. Jagger had replied "Fantastic!" and so the Fantastic Baggys had been born. As part of this, Sloan and Barri moved hard into surf and hot-rod music from the dance songs they had been writing previously. The Fantastic Baggys recorded their own album, Tell 'Em I'm Surfin', as a quickie album suggested by Adler: [Excerpt: The Fantastic Baggys, "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'"] And under the name The Rally Packs they recorded a version of Jan and Dean's "Move Out Little Mustang" which featured Berry's girlfriend Jill Gibson doing a spoken section: [Excerpt: The Rally Packs, "Move Out Little Mustang"] They also wrote several album tracks for Jan and Dean, and wrote "Summer Means Fun" for Bruce and Terry -- Bruce Johnston, later of the Beach Boys, and Terry Melcher: [Excerpt: Bruce and Terry, "Summer Means Fun"] And they wrote the very surf-flavoured "Secret Agent Man" for fellow Dunhill artist Johnny Rivers: [Excerpt: Johnny Rivers, "Secret Agent Man"] But of course, when you're chasing trends, you're chasing trends, and soon the craze for twangy guitars and falsetto harmonies had ended, replaced by a craze for jangly twelve-string guitars and closer harmonies. According to Sloan, he was in at the very beginning of the folk-rock trend -- the way he told the story, he was involved in the mastering of the Byrds' version of "Mr. Tambourine Man". He later talked about Terry Melcher getting him to help out, saying "He had produced a record called 'Mr. Tambourine Man', and had sent it into the head office, and it had been rejected. He called me up and said 'I've got three more hours in the studio before I'm being kicked out of Columbia. Can you come over and help me with this new record?' I did. I went over there. It was under lock and key. There were two guards outside the door. Terry asked me something about 'Summer Means Fun'. "He said 'Do you remember the guitar that we worked on with that? How we put in that double reverb?' "And I said 'yes' "And he said 'What do you think if we did something like that with the Byrds?' "And I said 'That sounds good. Let's see what it sounds like.' So we patched into all the reverb centres in Columbia Music, and mastered the record in three hours." Whether Sloan really was there at the birth of folk rock, he and Barri jumped on the folk-rock craze just as they had the surf and hot-rod craze, and wrote a string of jangly hits including "You Baby" for the Turtles: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "You Baby"] and "I Found a Girl" for Jan and Dean: [Excerpt: Jan and Dean, "I Found a Girl"] That song was later included on Jan and Dean's Folk 'n' Roll album, which also included... a song I'm not even going to name, but long-time listeners will know the one I mean. It was also notable in that "I Found a Girl" was the first song on which Sloan was credited not as Phil Sloan, but as P.F. Sloan -- he didn't have a middle name beginning with F, but rather the F stood for his nickname "Flip". Sloan would later talk of Phil Sloan and P.F. Sloan as almost being two different people, with P.F. being a far more serious, intense, songwriter. Folk 'n' Roll also contained another Sloan song, this one credited solely to Sloan. And that song is the one for which he became best known. There are two very different stories about how "Eve of Destruction" came to be written. To tell Sloan's version, I'm going to read a few paragraphs from his autobiography: "By late 1964, I had already written ‘Eve Of Destruction,' ‘The Sins Of A Family,' ‘This Mornin',' ‘Ain't No Way I'm Gonna Change My Mind,' and ‘What's Exactly The Matter With Me?' They all arrived on one cataclysmic evening, and nearly at the same time, as I worked on the lyrics almost simultaneously. ‘Eve Of Destruction' came about from hearing a voice, perhaps an angel's. The voice instructed me to place five pieces of paper and spread them out on my bed. I obeyed the voice. The voice told me that the first song would be called ‘Eve Of Destruction,' so I wrote the title at the top of the page. For the next few hours, the voice came and went as I was writing the lyric, as if this spirit—or whatever it was—stood over me like a teacher: ‘No, no … not think of all the hate there is in Red Russia … Red China!' I didn't understand. I thought the Soviet Union was the mortal threat to America, but the voice went on to reveal to me the future of the world until 2024. I was told the Soviet Union would fall, and that Red China would continue to be communist far into the future, but that communism was not going to be allowed to take over this Divine Planet—therefore, think of all the hate there is in Red China. I argued and wrestled with the voice for hours, until I was exhausted but satisfied inside with my plea to God to either take me out of the world, as I could not live in such a hypocritical society, or to show me a way to make things better. When I was writing ‘Eve,' I was on my hands and knees, pleading for an answer." Lou Adler's story is that he gave Phil Sloan a copy of Bob Dylan's Bringing it All Back Home album and told him to write a bunch of songs that sounded like that, and Sloan came back a week later as instructed with ten Dylan knock-offs. Adler said "It was a natural feel for him. He's a great mimic." As one other data point, both Steve Barri and Bones Howe, the engineer who worked on most of the sessions we're looking at today, have often talked in interviews about "Eve of Destruction" as being a Sloan/Barri collaboration, as if to them it's common knowledge that it wasn't written alone, although Sloan's is the only name on the credits. The song was given to a new signing to Dunhill Records, Barry McGuire. McGuire was someone who had been part of the folk scene for years, He'd been playing folk clubs in LA while also acting in a TV show from 1961. When the TV show had finished, he'd formed a duo, Barry and Barry, with Barry Kane, and they performed much the same repertoire as all the other early-sixties folkies: [Excerpt: Barry and Barry, "If I Had a Hammer"] After recording their one album, both Barrys joined the New Christy Minstrels. We've talked about the Christys before, but they were -- and are to this day -- an ultra-commercial folk group, led by Randy Sparks, with a revolving membership of usually eight or nine singers which included several other people who've come up in this podcast, like Gene Clark and Jerry Yester. McGuire became one of the principal lead singers of the Christys, singing lead on their version of the novelty cowboy song "Three Wheels on My Wagon", which was later released as a single in the UK and became a perennial children's favourite (though it has a problematic attitude towards Native Americans): [Excerpt: The New Christy Minstrels, "Three Wheels on My Wagon"] And he also sang lead on their big hit "Green Green", which he co-wrote with Randy Sparks: [Excerpt: The New Christy Minstrels, "Green Green"] But by 1965 McGuire had left the New Christy Minstrels. As he said later "I'd sung 'Green Green' a thousand times and I didn't want to sing it again. This is January of 1965. I went back to LA to meet some producers, and I was broke. Nobody had the time of day for me. I was walking down street one time to see Dr. Strangelove and I walked by the music store, and I heard "Green Green" comin' out of the store, ya know, on Hollywood Boulevard. And I heard my voice, and I thought, 'I got four dollars in my pocket!' I couldn't believe it, my voice is comin' out on Hollywood Boulevard, and I'm broke. And right at that moment, a car pulls up, and the radio is playing 'Chim Chim Cherie" also by the Minstrels. So I got my voice comin' at me in stereo, standin' on the sidewalk there, and I'm broke, and I can't get anyone to sign me!" But McGuire had a lot of friends who he'd met on the folk scene, some of whom were now in the new folk-rock scene that was just starting to spring up. One of them was Roger McGuinn, who told him that his band, the Byrds, were just about to put out a new single, "Mr. Tambourine Man", and that they were about to start a residency at Ciro's on Sunset Strip. McGuinn invited McGuire to the opening night of that residency, where a lot of other people from the scene were there to see the new group. Bob Dylan was there, as was Phil Sloan, and the actor Jack Nicholson, who was still at the time a minor bit-part player in low-budget films made by people like American International Pictures (the cinematographer on many of Nicholson's early films was Floyd Crosby, David Crosby's father, which may be why he was there). Someone else who was there was Lou Adler, who according to McGuire recognised him instantly. According to Adler, he actually asked Terry Melcher who the long-haired dancer wearing furs was, because "he looked like the leader of a movement", and Melcher told him that he was the former lead singer of the New Christy Minstrels. Either way, Adler approached McGuire and asked if he was currently signed -- Dunhill Records was just starting up, and getting someone like McGuire, who had a proven ability to sing lead on hit records, would be a good start for the label. As McGuire didn't have a contract, he was signed to Dunhill, and he was given some of Sloan's new songs to pick from, and chose "What's Exactly the Matter With Me?" as his single: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "What's Exactly the Matter With Me?"] McGuire described what happened next: "It was like, a three-hour session. We did two songs, and then the third one wasn't turning out. We only had about a half hour left in the session, so I said 'Let's do this tune', and I pulled 'Eve of Destruction' out of my pocket, and it just had Phil's words scrawled on a piece of paper, all wrinkled up. Phil worked the chords out with the musicians, who were Hal Blaine on drums and Larry Knechtel on bass." There were actually more musicians than that at the session -- apparently both Knechtel and Joe Osborn were there, so I'm not entirely sure who's playing bass -- Knechtel was a keyboard player as well as a bass player, but I don't hear any keyboards on the track. And Tommy Tedesco was playing lead guitar, and Steve Barri added percussion, along with Sloan on rhythm guitar and harmonica. The chords were apparently scribbled down for the musicians on bits of greasy paper that had been used to wrap some takeaway chicken, and they got through the track in a single take. According to McGuire "I'm reading the words off this piece of wrinkled paper, and I'm singing 'My blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin'", that part that goes 'Ahhh you can't twist the truth', and the reason I'm going 'Ahhh' is because I lost my place on the page. People said 'Man, you really sounded frustrated when you were singing.' I was. I couldn't see the words!" [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "Eve of Destruction"] With a few overdubs -- the female backing singers in the chorus, and possibly the kettledrums, which I've seen differing claims about, with some saying that Hal Blaine played them during the basic track and others saying that Lou Adler suggested them as an overdub, the track was complete. McGuire wasn't happy with his vocal, and a session was scheduled for him to redo it, but then a record promoter working with Adler was DJing a birthday party for the head of programming at KFWB, the big top forty radio station in LA at the time, and he played a few acetates he'd picked up from Adler. Most went down OK with the crowd, but when he played "Eve of Destruction", the crowd went wild and insisted he play it three times in a row. The head of programming called Adler up and told him that "Eve of Destruction" was going to be put into rotation on the station from Monday, so he'd better get the record out. As McGuire was away for the weekend, Adler just released the track as it was, and what had been intended to be a B-side became Barry McGuire's first and only number one record: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "Eve of Destruction"] Sloan would later claim that that song was a major reason why the twenty-sixth amendment to the US Constitution was passed six years later, because the line "you're old enough to kill but not for votin'" shamed Congress into changing the constitution to allow eighteen-year-olds to vote. If so, that would make "Eve of Destruction" arguably the single most impactful rock record in history, though Sloan is the only person I've ever seen saying that As well as going to number one in McGuire's version, the song was also covered by the other artists who regularly performed Sloan and Barri songs, like the Turtles: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Eve of Destruction"] And Jan and Dean, whose version on Folk & Roll used the same backing track as McGuire, but had a few lyrical changes to make it fit with Jan Berry's right-wing politics, most notably changing "Selma, Alabama" to "Watts, California", thus changing a reference to peaceful civil rights protestors being brutally attacked and murdered by white supremacist state troopers to a reference to what was seen, in the popular imaginary, as Black people rioting for no reason: [Excerpt: Jan and Dean, "Eve of Destruction"] According to Sloan, he worked on the Folk & Roll album as a favour to Berry, even though he thought Berry was being cynical and exploitative in making the record, but those changes caused a rift in their friendship. Sloan said in his autobiography "Where I was completely wrong was in helping him capitalize on something in which he didn't believe. Jan wanted the public to perceive him as a person who was deeply concerned and who embraced the values of the progressive politics of the day. But he wasn't that person. That's how I was being pulled. It was when he recorded my actual song ‘Eve Of Destruction' and changed a number of lines to reflect his own ideals that my principles demanded that I leave Folk City and never return." It's true that Sloan gave no more songs to Jan and Dean after that point -- but it's also true that the duo would record only one more album, the comedy concept album Jan and Dean Meet Batman, before Jan's accident. Incidentally, the reference to Selma, Alabama in the lyric might help people decide on which story about the writing of "Eve of Destruction" they think is more plausible. Remember that Lou Adler said that it was written after Adler gave Sloan a copy of Bringing it All Back Home and told him to write a bunch of knock-offs, while Sloan said it was written after a supernatural force gave him access to all the events that would happen in the world for the next sixty years. Sloan claimed the song was written in late 1964. Selma, Alabama, became national news in late February and early March 1965. Bringing it All Back Home was released in late March 1965. So either Adler was telling the truth, or Sloan really *was* given a supernatural insight into the events of the future. Now, as it turned out, while "Eve of Destruction" went to number one, that would be McGuire's only hit as a solo artist. His next couple of singles would reach the very low end of the Hot One Hundred, and that would be it -- he'd release several more albums, before appearing in the Broadway musical Hair, most famous for its nude scenes, and getting a small part in the cinematic masterpiece Werewolves on Wheels: [Excerpt: Werewolves on Wheels trailer] P.F. Sloan would later tell various stories about why McGuire never had another hit. Sometimes he would say that Dunhill Records had received death threats because of "Eve of Destruction" and so deliberately tried to bury McGuire's career, other times he would say that Lou Adler had told him that Billboard had said they were never going to put McGuire's records on the charts no matter how well they sold, because "Eve of Destruction" had just been too powerful and upset the advertisers. But of course at this time Dunhill were still trying for a follow-up to "Eve of Destruction", and they thought they might have one when Barry McGuire brought in a few friends of his to sing backing vocals on his second album. Now, we've covered some of the history of the Mamas and the Papas already, because they were intimately tied up with other groups like the Byrds and the Lovin' Spoonful, and with the folk scene that led to songs like "Hey Joe", so some of this will be more like a recap than a totally new story, but I'm going to recap those parts of the story anyway, so it's fresh in everyone's heads. John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Cass Elliot all grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, just a few miles south of Washington DC. Elliot was a few years younger than Phillips and McKenzie, and so as is the way with young men they never really noticed her, and as McKenzie later said "She lived like a quarter of a mile from me and I never met her until New York". While they didn't know who Elliot was, though, she was aware who they were, as Phillips and McKenzie sang together in a vocal group called The Smoothies. The Smoothies were a modern jazz harmony group, influenced by groups like the Modernaires, the Hi-Los, and the Four Freshmen. John Phillips later said "We were drawn to jazz, because we were sort of beatniks, really, rather than hippies, or whatever, flower children. So we used to sing modern harmonies, like Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. Dave Lambert did a lot of our arrangements for us as a matter of fact." Now, I've not seen any evidence other than Phillips' claim that Dave Lambert ever arranged for the Smoothies, but that does tell you a lot about the kind of music that they were doing. Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross were a vocalese trio whose main star was Annie Ross, who had a career worthy of an episode in itself -- she sang with Paul Whiteman, appeared in a Little Rascals film when she was seven, had an affair with Lenny Bruce, dubbed Britt Ekland's voice in The Wicker Man, played the villain's sister in Superman III, and much more. Vocalese, you'll remember, was a style of jazz vocal where a singer would take a jazz instrumental, often an improvised one, and add lyrics which they would sing, like Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross' version of "Cloudburst": [Excerpt: Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, "Cloudburst"] Whether Dave Lambert ever really did arrange for the Smoothies or not, it's very clear that the trio had a huge influence on John Phillips' ideas about vocal arrangement, as you can hear on Mamas and Papas records like "Once Was a Time I Thought": [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "Once Was a Time I Thought"] While the Smoothies thought of themselves as a jazz group, when they signed to Decca they started out making the standard teen pop of the era, with songs like "Softly": [Excerpt, The Smoothies, "Softly"] When the folk boom started, Phillips realised that this was music that he could do easily, because the level of musicianship among the pop-folk musicians was so much lower than in the jazz world. The Smoothies made some recordings in the style of the Kingston Trio, like "Ride Ride Ride": [Excerpt: The Smoothies, "Ride Ride Ride"] Then when the Smoothies split, Phillips and McKenzie formed a trio with a banjo player, Dick Weissman, who they met through Izzy Young's Folklore Centre in Greenwich Village after Phillips asked Young to name some musicians who could make a folk record with him. Weissman was often considered the best banjo player on the scene, and was a friend of Pete Seeger's, to whom Seeger sometimes turned for banjo tips. The trio, who called themselves the Journeymen, quickly established themselves on the folk scene. Weissman later said "we had this interesting balance. John had all of this charisma -- they didn't know about the writing thing yet -- John had the personality, Scott had the voice, and I could play. If you think about it, all of those bands like the Kingston Trio, the Brothers Four, nobody could really *sing* and nobody could really *play*, relatively speaking." This is the take that most people seemed to have about John Phillips, in any band he was ever in. Nobody thought he was a particularly good singer or instrumentalist -- he could sing on key and play adequate rhythm guitar, but nobody would actually pay money to listen to him do those things. Mark Volman of the Turtles, for example, said of him "John wasn't the kind of guy who was going to be able to go up on stage and sing his songs as a singer-songwriter. He had to put himself in the context of a group." But he was charismatic, he had presence, and he also had a great musical mind. He would surround himself with the best players and best singers he could, and then he would organise and arrange them in ways that made the most of their talents. He would work out the arrangements, in a manner that was far more professional than the quick head arrangements that other folk groups used, and he instigated a level of professionalism in his groups that was not at all common on the scene. Phillips' friend Jim Mason talked about the first time he saw the Journeymen -- "They were warming up backstage, and John had all of them doing vocal exercises; one thing in particular that's pretty famous called 'Seiber Syllables' -- it's a series of vocal exercises where you enunciate different vowel and consonant sounds. It had the effect of clearing your head, and it's something that really good operetta singers do." The group were soon signed by Frank Werber, the manager of the Kingston Trio, who signed them as an insurance policy. Dave Guard, the Kingston Trio's banjo player, was increasingly having trouble with the other members, and Werber knew it was only a matter of time before he left the group. Werber wanted the Journeymen as a sort of farm team -- he had the idea that when Guard left, Phillips would join the Kingston Trio in his place as the third singer. Weissman would become the Trio's accompanist on banjo, and Scott McKenzie, who everyone agreed had a remarkable voice, would be spun off as a solo artist. But until that happened, they might as well make records by themselves. The Journeymen signed to MGM records, but were dropped before they recorded anything. They instead signed to Capitol, for whom they recorded their first album: [Excerpt: The Journeymen, "500 Miles"] After recording that album, the Journeymen moved out to California, with Phillips' wife and children. But soon Phillips' marriage was to collapse, as he met and fell in love with Michelle Gilliam. Gilliam was nine years younger than him -- he was twenty-six and she was seventeen -- and she had the kind of appearance which meant that in every interview with an older heterosexual man who knew her, that man will spend half the interview talking about how attractive he found her. Phillips soon left his wife and children, but before he did, the group had a turntable hit with "River Come Down", the B-side to "500 Miles": [Excerpt: The Journeymen, "River Come Down"] Around the same time, Dave Guard *did* leave the Kingston Trio, but the plan to split the Journeymen never happened. Instead Phillips' friend John Stewart replaced Guard -- and this soon became a new source of income for Phillips. Both Phillips and Stewart were aspiring songwriters, and they collaborated together on several songs for the Trio, including "Chilly Winds": [Excerpt: The Kingston Trio, "Chilly Winds"] Phillips became particularly good at writing songs that sounded like they could be old traditional folk songs, sometimes taking odd lines from older songs to jump-start new ones, as in "Oh Miss Mary", which he and Stewart wrote after hearing someone sing the first line of a song she couldn't remember the rest of: [Excerpt: The Kingston Trio, "Oh Miss Mary"] Phillips and Stewart became so close that Phillips actually suggested to Stewart that he quit the Kingston Trio and replace Dick Weissman in the Journeymen. Stewart did quit the Trio -- but then the next day Phillips suggested that maybe it was a bad idea and he should stay where he was. Stewart went back to the Trio, claimed he had only pretended to quit because he wanted a pay-rise, and got his raise, so everyone ended up happy. The Journeymen moved back to New York with Michelle in place of Phillips' first wife (and Michelle's sister Russell also coming along, as she was dating Scott McKenzie) and on New Year's Eve 1962 John and Michelle married -- so from this point on I will refer to them by their first names, because they both had the surname Phillips. The group continued having success through 1963, including making appearances on "Hootenanny": [Excerpt: The Journeymen, "Stack O'Lee (live on Hootenanny)"] By the time of the Journeymen's third album, though, John and Scott McKenzie were on bad terms. Weissman said "They had been the closest of friends and now they were the worst of enemies. They talked through me like I was a medium. It got to the point where we'd be standing in the dressing room and John would say to me 'Tell Scott that his right sock doesn't match his left sock...' Things like that, when they were standing five feet away from each other." Eventually, the group split up. Weissman was always going to be able to find employment given his banjo ability, and he was about to get married and didn't need the hassle of dealing with the other two. McKenzie was planning on a solo career -- everyone was agreed that he had the vocal ability. But John was another matter. He needed to be in a group. And not only that, the Journeymen had bookings they needed to complete. He quickly pulled together a group he called the New Journeymen. The core of the lineup was himself, Michelle on vocals, and banjo player Marshall Brickman. Brickman had previously been a member of a folk group called the Tarriers, who had had a revolving lineup, and had played on most of their early-sixties recordings: [Excerpt: The Tarriers, "Quinto (My Little Pony)"] We've met the Tarriers before in the podcast -- they had been formed by Erik Darling, who later replaced Pete Seeger in the Weavers after Seeger's socialist principles wouldn't let him do advertising, and Alan Arkin, later to go on to be a film star, and had had hits with "Cindy, O Cindy", with lead vocals from Vince Martin, who would later go on to be a major performer in the Greenwich Village scene, and with "The Banana Boat Song". By the time Brickman had joined, though, Darling, Arkin, and Martin had all left the group to go on to bigger things, and while he played with them for several years, it was after their commercial peak. Brickman would, though, also go on to a surprising amount of success, but as a writer rather than a musician -- he had a successful collaboration with Woody Allen in the 1970s, co-writing four of Allen's most highly regarded films -- Sleeper, Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Manhattan Murder Mystery -- and with another collaborator he later co-wrote the books for the stage musicals Jersey Boys and The Addams Family. Both John and Michelle were decent singers, and both have their admirers as vocalists -- P.F. Sloan always said that Michelle was the best singer in the group they eventually formed, and that it was her voice that gave the group its sound -- but for the most part they were not considered as particularly astonishing lead vocalists. Certainly, neither had a voice that stood out the way that Scott McKenzie's had. They needed a strong lead singer, and they found one in Denny Doherty. Now, we covered Denny Doherty's early career in the episode on the Lovin' Spoonful, because he was intimately involved in the formation of that group, so I won't go into too much detail here, but I'll give a very abbreviated version of what I said there. Doherty was a Canadian performer who had been a member of the Halifax Three with Zal Yanovsky: [Excerpt: The Halifax Three, "When I First Came to This Land"] After the Halifax Three had split up, Doherty and Yanovsky had performed as a duo for a while, before joining up with Cass Elliot and her husband Jim Hendricks, who both had previously been in the Big Three with Tim Rose: [Excerpt: Cass Elliot and the Big 3, "The Banjo Song"] Elliot, Hendricks, Yanovsky, and Doherty had formed The Mugwumps, sometimes joined by John Sebastian, and had tried to go in more of a rock direction after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. They recorded one album together before splitting up: [Excerpt: The Mugwumps, "Searchin'"] Part of the reason they split up was that interpersonal relationships within the group were put under some strain -- Elliot and Hendricks split up, though they would remain friends and remain married for several years even though they were living apart, and Elliot had an unrequited crush on Doherty. But since they'd split up, and Yanovsky and Sebastian had gone off to form the Lovin' Spoonful, that meant that Doherty was free, and he was regarded as possibly the best male lead vocalist on the circuit, so the group snapped him up. The only problem was that the Journeymen still had gigs booked that needed to be played, one of them was in just three days, and Doherty didn't know the repertoire. This was a problem with an easy solution for people in their twenties though -- they took a huge amount of amphetamines, and stayed awake for three days straight rehearsing. They made the gig, and Doherty was now the lead singer of the New Journeymen: [Excerpt: The New Journeymen, "The Last Thing on My Mind"] But the New Journeymen didn't last in that form for very long, because even before joining the group, Denny Doherty had been going in a more folk-rock direction with the Mugwumps. At the time, John Phillips thought rock and roll was kids' music, and he was far more interested in folk and jazz, but he was also very interested in making money, and he soon decided it was an idea to start listening to the Beatles. There's some dispute as to who first played the Beatles for John in early 1965 -- some claim it was Doherty, others claim it was Cass Elliot, but everyone agrees it was after Denny Doherty had introduced Phillips to something else -- he brought round some LSD for John and Michelle, and Michelle's sister Rusty, to try. And then he told them he'd invited round a friend. Michelle Phillips later remembered, "I remember saying to the guys "I don't know about you guys, but this drug does nothing for me." At that point there was a knock on the door, and as I opened the door and saw Cass, the acid hit me *over the head*. I saw her standing there in a pleated skirt, a pink Angora sweater with great big eyelashes on and her hair in a flip. And all of a sudden I thought 'This is really *quite* a drug!' It was an image I will have securely fixed in my brain for the rest of my life. I said 'Hi, I'm Michelle. We just took some LSD-25, do you wanna join us?' And she said 'Sure...'" Rusty Gilliam's description matches this -- "It was mind-boggling. She had on a white pleated skirt, false eyelashes. These were the kind of eyelashes that when you put them on you were supposed to trim them to an appropriate length, which she didn't, and when she blinked she looked like a cow, or those dolls you get when you're little and the eyes open and close. And we're on acid. Oh my God! It was a sight! And everything she was wearing were things that you weren't supposed to be wearing if you were heavy -- white pleated skirt, mohair sweater. You know, until she became famous, she suffered so much, and was poked fun at." This gets to an important point about Elliot, and one which sadly affected everything about her life. Elliot was *very* fat -- I've seen her weight listed at about three hundred pounds, and she was only five foot five tall -- and she also didn't have the kind of face that gets thought of as conventionally attractive. Her appearance would be cruelly mocked by pretty much everyone for the rest of her life, in ways that it's genuinely hurtful to read about, and which I will avoid discussing in detail in order to avoid hurting fat listeners. But the two *other* things that defined Elliot in the minds of those who knew her were her voice -- every single person who knew her talks about what a wonderful singer she was -- and her personality. I've read a lot of things about Cass Elliot, and I have never read a single negative word about her as a person, but have read many people going into raptures about what a charming, loving, friendly, understanding person she was. Michelle later said of her "From the time I left Los Angeles, I hadn't had a friend, a buddy. I was married, and John and I did not hang out with women, we just hung out with men, and especially not with women my age. John was nine years older than I was. And here was a fun-loving, intelligent woman. She captivated me. I was as close to in love with Cass as I could be to any woman in my life at that point. She also represented something to me: freedom. Everything she did was because she wanted to do it. She was completely independent and I admired her and was in awe of her. And later on, Cass would be the one to tell me not to let John run my life. And John hated her for that." Either Elliot had brought round Meet The Beatles, the Beatles' first Capitol album, for everyone to listen to, or Denny Doherty already had it, but either way Elliot and Doherty were by this time already Beatles fans. Michelle, being younger than the rest and not part of the folk scene until she met John, was much more interested in rock and roll than any of them, but because she'd been married to John for a couple of years and been part of his musical world she hadn't really encountered the Beatles music, though she had a vague memory that she might have heard a track or two on the radio. John was hesitant -- he didn't want to listen to any rock and roll, but eventually he was persuaded, and the record was put on while he was on his first acid trip: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand"] Within a month, John Phillips had written thirty songs that he thought of as inspired by the Beatles. The New Journeymen were going to go rock and roll. By this time Marshall Brickman was out of the band, and instead John, Michelle, and Denny recruited a new lead guitarist, Eric Hord. Denny started playing bass, with John on rhythm guitar, and a violinist friend of theirs, Peter Pilafian, knew a bit of drums and took on that role. The new lineup of the group used the Journeymen's credit card, which hadn't been stopped even though the Journeymen were no more, to go down to St. Thomas in the Caribbean, along with Michelle's sister, John's daughter Mackenzie (from whose name Scott McKenzie had taken his stage name, as he was born Philip Blondheim), a pet dog, and sundry band members' girlfriends. They stayed there for several months, living in tents on the beach, taking acid, and rehearsing. While they were there, Michelle and Denny started an affair which would have important ramifications for the group later. They got a gig playing at a club called Duffy's, whose address was on Creeque Alley, and soon after they started playing there Cass Elliot travelled down as well -- she was in love with Denny, and wanted to be around him. She wasn't in the group, but she got a job working at Duffy's as a waitress, and she would often sing harmony with the group while waiting at tables. Depending on who was telling the story, either she didn't want to be in the group because she didn't want her appearance to be compared to Michelle's, or John wouldn't *let* her be in the group because she was so fat. Later a story would be made up to cover for this, saying that she hadn't been in the group at first because she couldn't sing the highest notes that were needed, until she got hit on the head with a metal pipe and discovered that it had increased her range by three notes, but that seems to be a lie. One of the songs the New Journeymen were performing at this time was "Mr. Tambourine Man". They'd heard that their old friend Roger McGuinn had recorded it with his new band, but they hadn't yet heard his version, and they'd come up with their own arrangement: [Excerpt: The New Journeymen, "Mr. Tambourine Man"] Denny later said "We were doing three-part harmony on 'Mr Tambourine Man', but a lot slower... like a polka or something! And I tell John, 'No John, we gotta slow it down and give it a backbeat.' Finally we get the Byrds 45 down here, and we put it on and turn it up to ten, and John says 'Oh, like that?' Well, as you can tell, it had already been done. So John goes 'Oh, ah... that's it...' a light went on. So we started doing Beatles stuff. We dropped 'Mr Tambourine Man' after hearing the Byrds version, because there was no point." Eventually they had to leave the island -- they had completely run out of money, and were down to fifty dollars. The credit card had been cut up, and the governor of the island had a personal vendetta against them because they gave his son acid, and they were likely to get arrested if they didn't leave the island. Elliot and her then-partner had round-trip tickets, so they just left, but the rest of them were in trouble. By this point they were unwashed, they were homeless, and they'd spent their last money on stage costumes. They got to the airport, and John Phillips tried to write a cheque for eight air fares back to the mainland, which the person at the check-in desk just laughed at. So they took their last fifty dollars and went to a casino. There Michelle played craps, and she rolled seventeen straight passes, something which should be statistically impossible. She turned their fifty dollars into six thousand dollars, which they scooped up, took to the airport, and paid for their flights out in cash. The New Journeymen arrived back in New York, but quickly decided that they were going to try their luck in California. They rented a car, using Scott McKenzie's credit card, and drove out to LA. There they met up with Hoyt Axton, who you may remember as the son of Mae Axton, the writer of "Heartbreak Hotel", and as the performer who had inspired Michael Nesmith to go into folk music: [Excerpt: Hoyt Axton, "Greenback Dollar"] Axton knew the group, and fed them and put them up for a night, but they needed somewhere else to stay. They went to stay with one of Michelle's friends, but after one night their rented car was stolen, with all their possessions in it. They needed somewhere else to stay, so they went to ask Jim Hendricks if they could crash at his place -- and they were surprised to find that Cass Elliot was there already. Hendricks had another partner -- though he and Elliot wouldn't have their marriage annulled until 1968 and were still technically married -- but he'd happily invited her to stay with them. And now all her friends had turned up, he invited them to stay as well, taking apart the beds in his one-bedroom apartment so he could put down a load of mattresses in the space for everyone to sleep on. The next part becomes difficult, because pretty much everyone in the LA music scene of the sixties was a liar who liked to embellish their own roles in things, so it's quite difficult to unpick what actually happened. What seems to have happened though is that first this new rock-oriented version of the New Journeymen went to see Frank Werber, on the recommendation of John Stewart. Werber was the manager of the Kingston Trio, and had also managed the Journeymen. He, however, was not interested -- not because he didn't think they had talent, but because he had experience of working with John Phillips previously. When Phillips came into his office Werber picked up a tape that he'd been given of the group, and said "I have not had a chance to listen to this tape. I believe that you are a most talented individual, and that's why we took you on in the first place. But I also believe that you're also a drag to work with. A pain in the ass. So I'll tell you what, before whatever you have on here sways me, I'm gonna give it back to you and say that we're not interested." Meanwhile -- and this part of the story comes from Kim Fowley, who was never one to let the truth get in the way of him taking claim for everything, but parts of it at least are corroborated by other people -- Cass Elliot had called Fowley, and told him that her friends' new group sounded pretty good and he should sign them. Fowley was at that time working as a talent scout for a label, but according to him the label wouldn't give the group the money they wanted. So instead, Fowley got in touch with Nik Venet, who had just produced the Leaves' hit version of "Hey Joe" on Mira Records: [Excerpt: The Leaves, "Hey Joe"] Fowley suggested to Venet that Venet should sign the group to Mira Records, and Fowley would sign them to a publishing contract, and they could both get rich. The trio went to audition for Venet, and Elliot drove them over -- and Venet thought the group had a great look as a quartet. He wanted to sign them to a record contract, but only if Elliot was in the group as well. They agreed, he gave them a one hundred and fifty dollar advance, and told them to come back the next day to see his boss at Mira. But Barry McGuire was also hanging round with Elliot and Hendricks, and decided that he wanted to have Lou Adler hear the four of them. He thought they might be useful both as backing vocalists on his second album and as a source of new songs. He got them to go and see Lou Adler, and according to McGuire Phillips didn't want Elliot to go with them, but as Elliot was the one who was friends with McGuire, Phillips worried that they'd lose the chance with Adler if she didn't. Adler was amazed, and decided to sign the group right then and there -- both Bones Howe and P.F. Sloan claimed to have been there when the group auditioned for him and have said "if you won't sign them, I will", though exactly what Sloan would have signed them to I'm not sure. Adler paid them three thousand dollars in cash and told them not to bother with Nik Venet, so they just didn't turn up for the Mira Records audition the next day. Instead, they went into the studio with McGuire and cut backing vocals on about half of his new album: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire with the Mamas and the Papas, "Hide Your Love Away"] While the group were excellent vocalists, there were two main reasons that Adler wanted to sign them. The first was that he found Michelle Phillips extremely attractive, and the second is a song that John and Michelle had written which he thought might be very suitable for McGuire's album. Most people who knew John Phillips think of "California Dreamin'" as a solo composition, and he would later claim that he gave Michelle fifty percent just for transcribing his lyric, saying he got inspired in the middle of the night, woke her up, and got her to write the song down as he came up with it. But Michelle, who is a credited co-writer on the song, has been very insistent that she wrote the lyrics to the second verse, and that it's about her own real experiences, saying that she would often go into churches and light candles even though she was "at best an agnostic, and possibly an atheist" in her words, and this would annoy John, who had also been raised Catholic, but who had become aggressively opposed to expressions of religion, rather than still having nostalgia for the aesthetics of the church as Michelle did. They were out walking on a particularly cold winter's day in 1963, and Michelle wanted to go into St Patrick's Cathedral and John very much did not want to. A couple of nights later, John woke her up, having written the first verse of the song, starting "All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey/I went for a walk on a winter's day", and insisting she collaborate with him. She liked the song, and came up with the lines "Stopped into a church, I passed along the way/I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray/The preacher likes the cold, he knows I'm going to stay", which John would later apparently dislike, but which stayed in the song. Most sources I've seen for the recording of "California Dreamin'" say that the lineup of musicians was the standard set of players who had played on McGuire's other records, with the addition of John Phillips on twelve-string guitar -- P.F. Sloan on guitar and harmonica, Joe Osborn on bass, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, and Hal Blaine on drums, but for some reason Stephen McParland's book on Sloan has Bones Howe down as playing drums on the track while engineering -- a detail so weird, and from such a respectable researcher, that I have to wonder if it might be true. In his autobiography, Sloan claims to have rewritten the chord sequence to "California Dreamin'". He says "Barry Mann had unintentionally showed me a suspended chord back at Screen Gems. I was so impressed by this beautiful, simple chord that I called Brian Wilson and played it for him over the phone. The next thing I knew, Brian had written ‘Don't Worry Baby,' which had within it a number suspended chords. And then the chord heard 'round the world, two months later, was the opening suspended chord of ‘A Hard Day's Night.' I used these chords throughout ‘California Dreamin',' and more specifically as a bridge to get back and forth from the verse to the chorus." Now, nobody else corroborates this story, and both Brian Wilson and John Phillips had the kind of background in modern harmony that means they would have been very aware of suspended chords before either ever encountered Sloan, but I thought I should mention it. Rather more plausible is Sloan's other claim, that he came up with the intro to the song. According to Sloan, he was inspired by "Walk Don't Run" by the Ventures: [Excerpt: The Ventures, "Walk Don't Run"] And you can easily see how this: [plays "Walk Don't Run"] Can lead to this: [plays "California Dreamin'"] And I'm fairly certain that if that was the inspiration, it was Sloan who was the one who thought it up. John Phillips had been paying no attention to the world of surf music when "Walk Don't Run" had been a hit -- that had been at the point when he was very firmly in the folk world, while Sloan of course had been recording "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'", and it had been his job to know surf music intimately. So Sloan's intro became the start of what was intended to be Barry McGuire's next single: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "California Dreamin'"] Sloan also provided the harmonica solo on the track: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "California Dreamin'"] The Mamas and the Papas -- the new name that was now given to the former New Journeymen, now they were a quartet -- were also signed to Dunhill as an act on their own, and recorded their own first single, "Go Where You Wanna Go", a song apparently written by John about Michelle, in late 1963, after she had briefly left him to have an affair with Russ Titelman, the record producer and songwriter, before coming back to him: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "Go Where You Wanna Go"] But while that was put out, they quickly decided to scrap it and go with another song. The "Go Where You Wanna Go" single was pulled after only selling a handful of copies, though its commercial potential was later proved when in 1967 a new vocal group, the 5th Dimension, released a soundalike version as their second single. The track was produced by Lou Adler's client Johnny Rivers, and used the exact same musicians as the Mamas and the Papas version, with the exception of Phillips. It became their first hit, reaching number sixteen on the charts: [Excerpt: The 5th Dimension, "Go Where You Wanna Go"] The reason the Mamas and the Papas version of "Go Where You Wanna Go" was pulled was because everyone became convinced that their first single should instead be their own version of "California Dreamin'". This is the exact same track as McGuire's track, with just two changes. The first is that McGuire's lead vocal was replaced with Denny Doherty: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "California Dreamin'"] Though if you listen to the stereo mix of the song and isolate the left channel, you can hear McGuire singing the lead on the first line, and occasional leakage from him elsewhere on the backing vocal track: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "California Dreamin'"] The other change made was to replace Sloan's harmonica solo with an alto flute solo by Bud Shank, a jazz musician who we heard about in the episode on "Light My Fire", when he collaborated with Ravi Shankar on "Improvisations on the Theme From Pather Panchali": [Excerpt: Ravi Shankar, "Improvisation on the Theme From Pather Panchali"] Shank was working on another session in Western Studios, where they were recording the Mamas and Papas track, and Bones Howe approached him while he was packing his instrument and asked if he'd be interested in doing another session. Shank agreed, though the track caused problems for him. According to Shank "What had happened was that whe

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